For perhaps the first time in a half-century, the Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa, Canada is facing the possibility of a fully closed season due to a lack of ice. The Skateway sees up to a million visitors yearly, and Guinness lists it as the world’s largest natural ice rink, is a 4.8-mile part of the Rideau Canal connecting Ottawa, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River and sees more than a million visitors each year.
The Skateway’s opening dates depend on the weather. The ice must be almost a foot thick, usually requiring up to two weeks of sustained below-freezing temps. However, Ottawa has experienced one of its warmest-ever winters, and there isn’t enough ice to create the Skateway.
Canada’s National Capital Commission (NCC) has yet to end the season. Still, an NCC spokesperson confirmed to CNN that “persistent above-normal seasonal temperatures and current ice conditions prevent us from opening the Rideau Canal Skateway this week.”
The lack of a skating rink is an extreme example of a growing trend of increasingly later seasons, as the skating season has opened before January 1 only six times in the last 26 years.
The NCC is already working with Carleton University to address the impact of climate change on the Skateway with a four-year project consisting of two years of data-gathering before modeling to predict future ice behavior. Finally, the academics will suggest solutions for adapting the Skateway.
Though officials have not yet made a final call for the season, CTV reports that upcoming record-warm temperatures mean hopes for the Skateway are fading fast.