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Meltdown at outdoor skating rink

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Tarea Kuypers had to cancel plans for a skating party with her friends Saturday afternoon at the outdoor ice rink at Kelowna's Stuart Park. Mild temperatures forced the temporary closure of the rink until at least the evening.
Strong sun and warm winds turned ice to mush Saturday, forcing the temporary closure of Kelowna's refrigerated outdoor skating rink.
When the temperature hit 8 C - tying the record for Jan. 11, set in 2006 - the topmost layers of ice melted and made the surface unsafe for skating.
It's the first time since the rink in Stuart Park opened in 2010 that the rink has had to be closed in mid-January because the ice was melting, said civic operations director Joe Creron.
"The ice can start softening a little bit at around 5 C, but today there was actually water on the surface, so it wasn't safe for skating," Creron said. "It's definitely unusual to have to close it at this time of year."
The refrigeration system, which is located in City Hall across Water Street, can't be turned up any higher to compensate for warmer-than-expected temperatures and ensure solid ice.
Generally, the ice is removed from the rink around the first week of March, when daytime high temperatures consistently average 6 C.
Signs advising of the rink's temporary closure due to unsafe conditions were put up about 11 a.m. Saturday, causing some disappointment for would-be skaters.
"Me and my friends came down here to have a little skating party," said Tarea Kuypers, 23. "It was going to be my first time skating this year.
"I guess this is the price we pay for living in such a gorgeous place where the temperatures can get so warm in the middle of January," Kuypers said. "We'll just go for a walk instead."
Kevin LaFlamme, who operates a skate rental business at the rink, shut down his trailer and took an unscheduled day off, his first break since early December other than Christmas and Boxing Day.
"I took the time to run some errands," LaFlamme said. "Now I'm just chillaxing on my couch, and in a bit I'm going to have a barbecue steak on the balcony."
The rink was expected to reopen Saturday evening.
Highs today are forecast to be only 2 C, but ice problems may return on Monday as Environment Canada is predicting an all-time high for Jan. 13 of 10 C.

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