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WISN Meterologist On Board As Coast Guard Frees Frozen Freighter

United States Army Corps of Engineers, flickr

The warming temperatures forecast for the Milwaukee area in the days ahead represent a welcome relief for many of us.  But, if they do happen, they'll also bring some challenges for getting around. 

Any snow that melts during the warmer days is likely to freeze as the temperature drops again at night.

Fortunately for cities around the region, a major shipment of salt arrived last week at the Port of Milwaukee.  It was a difficult trip for the two Canadian ships that delivered the salt - they needed an escort from a United States Coast Guard ice cutter to make it through the Straits of Mackinac, where Lake Michigan meets Lake Huron.

Chris Gloninger is a meteorologist and environmental reporter for WISN Channel 12 in Milwaukee. He spent an 18-hour shift aboard the US Coast Guard's largest ice cutter, Mackinaw, as it assisted one of the ships when it got stuck on its return trip through the straits.  

The US Coast Guard’s main responsibility is to keep the Straits of Mackinac open in order to allow cargo ships to pass through. The mission of the US Coast Guard was to free a 750-foot Canadian freighter that got stuck in 2-feet of ice carrying 25,000 tons of salt.

“Seeing a 750-foot freighter stuck – you have to think about the weight of this vessel—stuck in 2-feet of ice and basically helpless out there,” says Gloninger. “It’s a sight to see.”

Gloninger’s stories about the time spent on the  Coast Guard Ice Cutter Mackinaw aired on Channel 12 on Feburary 13th.