Warm weather boosts ice rink attendance, jeopardizes ice

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Two-thirds of the days we have already experienced this winter have been warmer than average.  Mild winter weather is great for getting people outside, but can hurt an outdoor ice rink.  That’s where Headwaters Ice Rink currently finds itself.

The ice rink has seen record attendance this season, and there are still nearly two weeks left in the season.  The rink will close after March 5.  With less than two weeks left in the season, record high temperatures in Fort Wayne are jeopardizing the quality of the ice.

Four years ago, Headwaters invested in a new and more advanced refrigeration system for the ice. This winter the system is being pushed to its limit.  It is rated to withstand high temperatures in the low 60s, but the more important factor is how far temperatures drop overnight.

According to Geoff Paddock, Director of the Headwaters Park Alliance, as long as low temperatures get down into the 40s, they are pretty confident the system can keep the ice cold enough.  With low temperatures in the lower 50s and highs in the upper 60s by the middle of the week, there is concern the refrigeration unit won’t be able to keep the ice cold enough.  However, it’s never been put in this situation before.

They plan to add more water to the rink overnight to keep the ice thick.  If it gets too thin, that’s when the rink would need to be closed.  It needs to be able to support not only skaters, but also the zamboni that cleans the ice every hour.

Director Paddock stresses that if they did need to close the rink, it would only be temporary.  Temperatures are forecast to drop very low again by this weekend (you can view our current forecast here), so they are confident they would be able to reopen quickly.  Then the rink would stay open through March 5, as planned.

Click here to go to the Headwaters Park Ice Rink Facebook page where they will post any necessary closing information.