Lt. Cmdr. Kevin McDonald, executive officer of Sector Field Office Grand Haven, said the ice is especially breaking up in the vicinity of the Board of Light & Power plant and other water discharges along the channel.
"The Coast Guard strongly encourages everyone to stay off the ice unless you are educated on the safety protocols and properly prepared," he said. "There have been seven recent ice rescues due to people unintentionally falling through the ice."
The National Weather Service says the potential for flooding is on the increase across southwest Lower Michigan.
Several factors are combining to create the increased flood risk starting late this week and continuing into early March. Those factors are significantly above normal: precipitation, snow depth, water in the snowpack, ice on rivers and soil moisture.
The weather pattern is changing, the weather bureau says, and warmer weather and rain are in the forecast for later this week. The biggest threat from the brief warm-up Thursday will be localized drainage issues due to clogged storm drains and increased weight on roofs with significant snow depth.
CLICK HERE to read the full hydrologic outlook from the National Weather Service office in Grand Rapids.
The Coast Guard offers this guidance from those who still find it necessary to venture onto the ice:
1) The Coast Guard wants to remind the public to make a serious investment and commitment to ice safety, since varying levels of ice thickness are common on the Great Lakes.
2) If people do choose to go on to the ice, they should remember the acronym I.C.E. — "Intelligence, Clothing, Equipment."
* Intelligence — Know the weather and ice conditions, know where you're going and know how to call for help. Also help others find you by remaining upright and standing to give rescuers a bigger target to locate you. Only do this if it is safe to do so.
* Clothing — Have proper clothing to prevent hypothermia; dress for the water temperature, not the air temperature. The public is encouraged to wear retro-reflective clothing in case of a search taking place at night. Avoid wearing cotton and wear layers of clothing that wick away moisture like polypropylene, which retains more of your body heat than any other fabric. Polypropylene thermals are the best extreme cold weather base layer of clothing made.
* Equipment — Have proper equipment: marine radio, life jackets, screw drivers/ice picks, etc.
The forecast for the Grand Haven area:
Tonight: A slight chance of flurries and freezing drizzle after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 24. Breezy, with a west wind 18 to 23 mph decreasing to 9 to 14 mph after midnight.
Wednesday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 35. West wind 8 to 11 mph.
Wednesday night: A slight chance of snow, freezing rain, and sleet after 1am. Mostly cloudy, with a temperature rising to around 31 by 3am. South southwest wind 7 to 9 mph becoming southeast after midnight. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
Thursday: Freezing rain and sleet before 10am, then rain or freezing rain between 10am and 1pm, then occasional rain after 1pm. Some thunder is also possible. Areas of fog after 1pm. High near 43. Breezy, with an east southeast wind 9 to 14 mph increasing to 19 to 24 mph in the afternoon. Chance of precipitation is 100%. Little or no snow accumulation expected.
Thursday night: Rain showers likely before 1am, then snow showers likely. Some thunder is also possible. Areas of fog before 1am. Otherwise, cloudy, with a low around 24. Windy, with a south southeast wind 22 to 27 mph becoming southwest 33 to 38 mph in the evening. Winds could gust as high as 47 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New snow accumulation of less than a half inch possible.
Friday: A 50 percent chance of snow showers. Mostly cloudy, with a high near 30. Windy.