The winter ice skating season isn't quite in full swing in Anchorage, as skaters across the city wait for ice to be hot-mopped.

All of the extra snow that Anchorage received over the last few weeks are great for many outdoor activities, but not as helpful when it comes to ice skating. The snow works as an insulator, slowing down the process of the ice thickening. That means it's not thick enough for the muni's Parks and Recreation Department to smooth the ice.

Normally at this time of year, ice on lakes and ponds in Anchorage is at least 12 inches thick -- the minimum Josh Durand with Parks and Recreation says workers need to remove snow and prepare the ice using machines.

According to the department, ice so far at Cheney Lake is at 10 inches, Cuddy Midtown Skate Park is at 9 inches and at Westchester Lagoon it's 10.5 inches thick.

Two inches of ice is the minimum required for one person on foot or skates to safely go on freshwater ice, according to ice safety standards from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. For a group of people walking in a single-file line, it's 3 inches.

Although the Corps of Engineers says ice can support vehicles at 9 inches thick, Parks and Recreation waits until it builds to a foot before sending a special pickup truck across the surface.

The truck weighs about two tons and carries 350 gallons of water, which adds another 3,000 pounds to its weight. It's used to regularly hot-mop the skating rinks and remove snow.

Parks officials will continue to regularly monitor the ice thickness and update the Ice and Trail Status Report on the municipality's website.

Employees use an auger, like one used in ice fishing, to drill holes in various locations of the freshwater lakes, pond and lagoon along with scientific information to make sure the lake is safe.

Durand says skaters should be cautious whenever they take the ice.

"(There are) lots of common-sense things that come into play: keep an eye out for open water, cracking, overflow, and things of that nature," Durand said.

A number of skating and hockey rinks around Anchorage are ready to skate. Some of those places include the Chanshtnu Muldoon Park, Town Square Park, Cuddy Midtown Skating Oval, Delaney Hockey Rink, Delaney Figure Skating Rink, Mulcahy Hockey Rink and Tikishla-Scotty Gomez Park Hockey Rink.

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