A question many people ask is do the Finger Lakes freeze? Unfortunately the answer to that question isn’t a simple yes or no answer. Some of the lakes freeze and some of them don’t. There are a lot of natural forces that play into whether or not each lake freezes. As we have discussed before, the weather in the Finger Lakes is quite unpredictable. Last winter it barely snowed, but 2 winters ago it seemed like it was below zero for most of the winter. Many factors also depend on the lake itself. The smaller the lake, the more likely the lake is to freeze. Because of the size of Seneca and Cayuga lakes it takes a very, very, very cold winter for them to freeze. The shallower areas are also obviously much more likely to freeze more solidly than the areas that are towards the deeper middle areas.
Because the lakes do freeze, most people take their docks out of the water at the end of the season and drag them up on shore or put them in storage. Many people have their docks on wheels so that it makes it easier to roll in and out. Cottages with permanent docks on the smaller lakes that are likely to freeze put bubblers in around their docks to keep the water immediately around the dock from freezing. On the large lakes where freezing is unlikely, some people don’t even bother with bubblers.
2 years ago we had one of the coldest winters when there was a record amount of ice cover on the lakes. People who had had the same cottages for their whole lives reported frozen areas in front of their cottages that had never frozen before. Some permanent docks were ruined as temperatures got so incredibly cold to cause even areas with bubblers to freeze. If people were lucky enough to not have the areas around their docks freeze, some people faced problems as ice began to break up. As large sheets of ice melted and moved down the lakes it actually destroyed many docks that were in its path.
Once the lakes do freeze, the lakes become places for many outdoor activities like ice boats, pick up hockey games, and ice fishing. I can remember when I was little going to my cousins cottage, shoveling off the ice, bringing a hockey goal down and taking shots on the ice. Ice fishers can usually be spotted in their colorful ice fishing huts that stand out against the white ice.
Whenever areas of the lakes do freeze it is important to be safe and smart if you decide to venture out on the ice. Even if the lake looks frozen, it is hard to tell how thick the ice is as well as how deep the water is underneath the ice if you were to fall through. It is not a good idea to venture out onto the ice when temperatures are above freezing.