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Polar Bear Plunge cancelled due to dangerous ice on Chesapeake Bay

This may sound ironic, but it has been too cold for the Polar Bear Plunge at Sandy Point Park in Annapolis. Isn’t cold the point? Around the nation numerous plunges show ice in the water, but this is different.

Rock Hall Park
Rock Hall Park
Karen Hersh Noll
The shoreline near the Bay Bridge shows a rare display of ice
Debbie Chavis Curtian

Historic cold has dominated the nation since the visit early this month from The Polar Vortex. In fact our temperatures have been below normal since November and in central Maryland below freezing all week. The recent snow is one thing, but numerous mornings in the single digits (eight so far this month at Baltimore’s BWI, record is 10 days in January 1982) has allowed ice to form in rare locations on the Chesapeake Bay. As I wrote yesterday showing the rare ice formations, it is beautiful but can be dangerous. Near and south of Annapolis, the water becomes more brackish, mixing of fresh water with salt water from the ocean. That has a lower freezing point.

As you can see in the slide show, ice has been quite extensive. Freezing and fracturing on inlets and rivers is one thing, but frozen waves on the bay itself is dangerous. That is the point. There are waves and tidal swings that move the water around. Even if they cleared the ice, they can’t prevent more from moving into the plunge zone. Also consider that winds have been gusting over 20 mph today making for bitter wind chills enhanced if you are wet. On top of that, snow is forecast to drop a dusting to an inch at Sandy Point Park, which could make for additional travel problems.

So there you have it. The perfect set up for potential problems from all corners forced the cancellation of the event and the festival. Officials have told people to just stay away. You can still pledge your money to this cause. See the Plungefest website for more information.

I did the plunge last year and helped lead the family plunge in the water during the morning. I am sorry I missed the event this year, but plan to be back again. It is a wonderful display of Maryland Pride. I tried to capture that in a video from last year’s event. You can see that posted here as well.

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