Updated: 03/21/2014 6:56 PM
Created: 03/21/2014 6:41 PM WDIO.com
By: Alan Hoglund
A tough task is ahead for ships expected to leave the Harbor this weekend. For the first time in several decades, the Duluth Seaway Port Authority says ice breakers will have to lead them across Lake Superior in a convoy.
Satellite images from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration show ice coverage on the lake at 90 percent this week. That number is down from about 95 percent when ice coverage peaked earlier this year.
Some of the ice is several feel thick, according to Jim Sharrow, the Port Authority facilities manager. "Those are heavy ice conditions you need a heavy ice breaker to help and assist those ships if they get stuck...the last time I remember having to convoy ships...across the lake was back in 1979."
When ice starts begins to melt, Port Authority Executive Director Vanta Coda said ships will have to make up lost time. "The benefit of the ice is that we get higher water levels and they will try to load heavier to their maximum capabilities. They will try to turn those ships quicker. By turn, I mean leave Duluth, go to Chicago and get back as quick as possible."
The locks at Sault Ste. Marie open just after midnight early Tuesday morning. But the Port Authority says, because of the ice conditions, several fleets won't be out on the water for the first time until early April.
Sharrow said there are nine US vessels breaking ice on the Great Lakes. He said two more from Canada are on the way.
Man Pleads Guilty in Deaths of Parents
An Iron River, Wis., man has pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree intentional homicide in the deaths of his parents last winter. 45-year-old James Crain, Jr., entered the plea Tuesday as part of a plea agreement.
DNR Talks Safety After Hunter Attacked By Bear, More Details Released
Family members said a hunter is undergoing a second surgery after a bear attack in Pine County. Brandon Johnson is from North Branch and was attacked by a wounded bear early Saturday morning. DNR officials and hunting guides said tracking a wounded bear alone is not recommended.
MSHSL to Vote on Policy Changes for Transgender Athletes
It's in reference to a proposed Minnesota State High School League policy that's scheduled to be voted on this week. The policy would allow transgender high school athletes to play in sports based on their gender identity, not their gender at birth.
Domestic Violence Deaths Reach 77 in Minnesota, Wisconsin for 2013
Domestic violence resulted in 77 deaths in Minnesota and Wisconsin in 2013. A group called End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin released the latest numbers for Wisconsin on Monday. Advocates in the Twin Ports say the important thing is to work toward fewer deaths in 2014.
Level III Sex Offender Moving to Rural Duluth
The St. Louis County Sheriff's Office says a sex offender is moving to a rural Duluth neighborhood next month.