After an unseasonably warm winter, the Great Lakes cutter Alder is scheduled to begin spring break out operations in the Duluth-Superior area of Minnesota Thursday, Coast Guard officials said.

Break out is the annual preparation for the start of the Great Lakes commercial navigation season, and the 225’x46’x18’ Alder can break up to 14” of ice at a steady 3-knot pace, or up to 36” by ramming.

The operation will begin inside the Duluth and Superior harbors, then expand to other ports. The planned sequence includes Two Harbors, Taconite Harbor, and Silver Bay in Minnesota, and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

With an unusually warm winter the upper Great Lakes region did not see its usually epic ice conditions, and the Coast Guard warned recreational users that more warmth is on the way.

“The forecast for the next seven to 10 days calls for temperatures conducive to rapid deterioration of ice,” according to a statement from the Coast Guard Ninth District in Sault Ste Marie, Mich. “All snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle operators, ice fishermen, and other recreational users of the ice should recognize the instability of the ice, plan their activities carefully, and use caution near the ice, especially in proximity to charted navigation areas.”

Contributing Editor Kirk Moore was a reporter for the Asbury Park Press for over 30 years before joining WorkBoat in 2015. He wrote several award-winning stories on marine, environmental, coastal and military issues that helped drive federal and state government policy changes. He has also been an editor for WorkBoat’s sister publication, National Fisherman, for over 25 years. Moore was awarded the Online News Association 2011 Knight Award for Public Service for the “Barnegat Bay Under Stress,” 2010 series that led to the New Jersey state government’s restoration plan. He lives in West Creek, N.J.