Ice sheet stacks force Cape May-Lewes Ferry to shut down

A Cape May-Lewes Ferry boat crosses an icy Delaware Bay. (photo courtesy DRBA)

A Cape May-Lewes Ferry boat crosses an icy Delaware Bay. (photo courtesy DRBA)

The ferry crossing between New Jersey and Delaware will not operate Thursday due to a buildup of ice on the Cape May side.

Ice has been building for the past few days at the terminals on both sides of the Delaware Bay, but the accumulation of ice on the New Jersey side, combined with the looming snow storm expected to hit the area tomorrow, forced ferry officials to shut down the vessels for Thursday.

“Bitter cold temperatures and strong northwest winds are causing ice sheets to stack up in the Cape May canal,” said Heath Gehrke, director of ferry operations. “With the approaching winter storm, these conditions are expected to worsen over the next few days.”

The wind from coastal winter storms like this cause problems especially on the Jersey side.

“The ice gets pushed up against the shore on the eastern side of the bay around Cape May and particularly around the jetty. It gets packed in there pretty tight, particularly at low tide,” Gehrke said.

With snow on Thursday and continued sub-freezing temperatures forecast into the weekend, Gehrke said ferry crossings beyond Thursday may be affected as well.

“It’s important that travelers who plan to use the Cape May-Lewes Ferry through Sunday, January 7, 2018 confirm that we are operating before coming to the ferry,” Gehrke said. “Unless something changes drastically, we’re going to maybe have a couple days of shut down here.”

Because ferry traffic is so low over the winter months, the shutdown is not expected to cause any revenue problems. Gehrke said the crew will use the down time to do some training and perform routine maintenance on the boats.

And just like the rest of us: “They’ll be shoveling,” he added.

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