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Apostle Islands ice caves closing during storm

Posted by: Pam Louwagie Updated: February 20, 2014 - 3:57 PM

Ice cave sightseers will have to wait out a winter storm before heading to Wisconsin's cool attraction.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, which has been inundated with tourists this winter, is closing at sunset Thursday because of the weather, the National Park Service announced. Accumulations of 14-18 inches of snow are predicted for the area, as well as strong winds with gusts up to 40 miles per hour.

"Major weather events such as this storm could significantly affect ice conditions," the park service said in a news release. 

Officials are closing the park entrance so workers can monitor the safety of the ice on Lake Superior, where sightseers must walk for about a mile to see the caves on the shoreline. Heavy winds can disrupt the stability of the ice and conditions can change quickly, park superintendent Bob Krumenaker said in an interview.

"The biggest uncertainty over this storm: Will the winds be sufficient to really erode the edge of the ice?" he said. Ice conditions hadn't been fit for sightseers since 2009.

Last year, Krumenaker noted, officials were set to declare the ice low-risk, but everything changed overnight.

Officials are urging potential visitors to pay attention and heed their warnings.

"There’s a saying around here, which is very apt, which is 'the lake is the boss,' " Krumenaker said.

Workers will monitor the stability of the ice after the storm, and if conditions remain stable, they hope to reopen the access at sunrise on Saturday at the earliest, he said. 

Until then, a gate at Meyers Road will be be locked and the road will not be snowplowed.

For updates, call the park's Ice Line at (715) 779-3397 x3 or go to its website at www.nps.gov/apis, or Facebook site at https://www.facebook.com/apostleislandsnationallakeshore

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