Below Zero Kick Off – Coast Guard’s Cold Weather Operations

* During the next several weeks, we will be featuring a series about all things cold weather – our missions, operations, and safety guidance. Follow us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram, and look for our #belowzero stories, images, and tips!

~ The cold never bothered us anyway ~

U.S. Coast Guard graphic by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings.

U.S. Coast Guard graphic by Petty Officer 2nd Class Diana Honings.

This time of the year tends to be ‘cooler’ – or for some much cooler – than other seasons, especially in the northern regions of our country.

If you live in, or travel to, one of these northern regions, you have most likely experienced major decreases in temperature that brings challenging weather conditions like blizzards, snow and ice. While these land areas are freezing, sometimes it’s hard to tell how cold the water is. During this time of the year, we should expect the water to be plenty cold for the majority of the country.

The Coast Guard completes a multitude of missions and operations all year long, and that doesn’t exclude the winter. We are just as busy in the cold months, even when ice and bad weather keeps many from being out on the waterways.

Frigid, sub-zero temperatures heighten the dangers for any operation. Add hazardous, icy waters and icebergs, and conditions for maritime commerce becomes treacherous.

To facilitate safe maritime commerce in icy waters and to protect communities in emergency situations, the Coast Guard conducts ice breaking operations in the Great Lakes and Northeast regions.

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star backs and rams through dense ice off the Antarctic coast, Jan. 15, 2017. The Polar Star and its crew work to establish a resupply channel through Antarctic ice to enable ships to reach the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.

The Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star backs and rams through dense ice off the Antarctic coast, Jan. 15, 2017. The Polar Star and its crew work to establish a resupply channel through Antarctic ice to enable ships to reach the National Science Foundation’s McMurdo Station. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Chief Petty Officer David Mosley.

Beyond domestic operations, the Coast Guard operates the only U.S.-flagged heavy icebreakers capable of providing year-round access to the Polar regions. Currently the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star has been breaking ice off Antarctica. You will definitely want to check back during this campaign to find out more about the Polar Star’s voyage.

In addition to icebreaking, the Coast Guard conducts ice rescues and also tracks icebergs in collaboration with the International Ice Patrol and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Stay tuned for blogs about all of these cold weather operations during our Below Zero campaign.

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