Skaha - the frozen lake

People laced up their skates and worked on improving their hockey skills close to the shore on Skaha Lake Tuesday

The recent cold snap has resulted in the lake freezing over all the way from Penticton to Okanagan Falls.

"We are out here taking advantage of Skaha being frozen over, with the traditional activity of hockey," said Dave Cox, who is up visiting from Langley.

According to Peter Ord, the manager/curator at the Penticton Museum and Archives, the lake south of the city, freezes over every two or three years but usually on the Okangan Falls side.

When ice does cover the entire lake, typically the result of a spontaneous cold snap, it's not unusual to see people ice skating or ice sailing.

In earlier days before the arrival of hockey arenas, playing hockey on the frozen lake was a popular activity.

"There are even a couple of stories of old timers driving their cars from Penticton to Okanagan Falls," said Ord.

In the last 30 to 40 years, spontaneous cold snaps have caused ice to cover the lake.

Prior to that, freeze overs were way more common, if not yearly, added Ord. He credits the change to global warming.

Other South Okanagan lakes that typically get a coat of ice in winter are Vaseux Lake, Farleigh Lake on the way to Apex, other lakes in the Apex area and Chute Lake.

It is much more rare for Okanagan Lake to freeze.

While skating on Skaha is a novelty, it is still a good idea to proceed with caution, according to city officials.

Simone Blais, the communications officer for Penticton, issued this statement.

"The city of Penticton has learned that some people are using the frozen lake as an ice surface given the recent cold weather. The public should be advised that the city does not monitor ice thickness and does not recommend any skating or walking on frozen lakes.

Anyone who ventures out onto the frozen lake does so at their own risk. Signs have been posted to that effect.

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