-By Ron Styne
The date may tell you its spring, but it still looks like winter when it comes to Lake Superior. The major effect of ice on the Great Lakes is crucial because it impacts many things from the fishing industry to commercial shipping and has actually had an impact on steel conduit. The amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes varies from year to year. However, according to the NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab, the average thickness of ice on Lake Superior is 8.9 inches thick.
A key ingredient in the production of steel conduit is iron ore. Iron ore loaded on ships needs to come through the Great Lakes and make its way to production facilities so that it can be used in the production of rolled steel, which in turn is used to make steel conduit. According to the director of traffic services for the US Coast Guard, while shipping times are improving on the Great Lakes, there are 60 vessels waiting to lock through Lake Superior.
In wake of one of the worst winters in decades, there are calls for more US ice breaking capacity for its water ways.
So in essence, the harsh winter is still impacting the production of steel conduit.