HUNTER — State forest rangers rescued two snowmobilers who fell through the ice at North-South Lake on Sunday, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
A 61-year-old man from Washingtonville, a village in Orange County, and a 49-year-old man from High Falls, in Ulster County, who have not been identified, were towing fishing gear behind their snowmobile when they broke through the ice, according to DEC. A nearby ice fisherman reported the incident just after 11 a.m.
“The men were towing two ice fishing sleds full of fishing gear from the South Lake spillway to a fishing spot on North Lake when the snowmobile fell through the thinner ice,” according to DEC. “Both men went into the water, but were able to self-rescue, crawling approximately 50 feet on the ice to shore.”
Several forest rangers, as well as Tannersville Rescue Squad and Hunter Ambulance responded to the scene, assisting the men out of the woods, according to DEC.
The fishermen were evaluated by Hunter Ambulance and refused further treatment, according to DEC.
Forest rangers were tasked with removing the snowmobile and other equipment from the lake.
“A local vehicle recovery service was hired by the fishermen to get the snowmobile out of the water,” according to DEC. “A forest ranger using a flat ice rescue suit assisted the fishermen in retrieving and returning their personal belongings, which were scattered around the broken ice and the snowmobile.”
Temperatures have been well above normal for the month of January, meteorologist Joe Villani of the National Weather Service.
At the Poughkeepsie weather station, the month’s median temperature, which takes the high and low readings each day and averages them, is 33.7 degrees, or 8.3 degrees above normal, Villani said.
“That is definitely significantly above normal,” he said. “We only had five days that were below normal, with the other 23 above.”
In Albany, the disparity was even larger, with an average of 32.5 degrees, which is 10.1 degrees above normal, Villani said.
“In Albany we had four days below normal and 24 above,” he said.
The weekend of Jan. 11-12 brought record-breaking temperatures in the high 60s to both weather stations, Villani said.
With the unusually mild start to 2020, DEC encourages ice fishermen to observe safe practices.
A minimum of four inches of clear ice is considered to be safe for anglers, according to dec.ny.gov.
“Ice fishing is a popular sport in New York and interest in it increases every year,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. “Safety is the first thing to consider when taking part in the sport, and we remind people to use good judgment when venturing onto the ice. Ice fishing is great for families looking to try something new, and parents can mix in skating, snowshoeing, cross country skiing or other activities during ice fishing trips to keep everyone interested and happy.”
Footprints and snowmobile tracks should not be considered evidence that the ice is safe, according to dec.ny.gov.