While most Vermonters lamented the loss of the state's snow during last week's January thaw, we backyard hockey rink builders were clapping our hands in delight. The thaw, combined with a few inches of warm rain, acted as a natural Zamboni, smoothing out the surface of Lake Champlain and ridding Mallett's Bay of the piles of snow accumulated over the past month. We were going to lose most of our snow-bank rink "boards," but we were finally going to have a skate-able surface.
And then the winds came.
As you can see in the video, the January thaw has been quickly followed by the coldest freeze of the winter so far, with winds blowing up to 40 mph and wind chill temperatures down as low as 25 below. Flurries of lake effect snow have whipped across the frozen bay, piling up near the shore and on the rink. (Note the hockey goals half-covered in the drift and a discarded Christmas Tree on the frozen shore).
To make matters worse, the sudden freeze has ripped a massive crack right down the middle of our rink, rendering it virtually unplayable. The saga of the backyard hockey rink built on Vermont's biggest lake may well be at an end. With the neighbor's rink faring significantly better through the extreme conditions, we are already drafting up our concession speech.
When were kids to smooth out the ice with no Zamboni we hauled buckets of water to the lake and with the large squeegees that the asphalt sealer guys use. Available at the big box hardware store we smoothed our ice.
You do have to let it sit over night and if it snows your ice ends up worse.