Howard Park hopes to keep skating season going

There's still time to skate a figure eight at the ice trail at Howard Park, but if you don't visit soon, your chances to glide across the ice will turn into a figure zero.

Spring activities are on our minds, but this can actually be a really pleasant time of year to enjoy winter activities outdoors for a final time. The ice trail at Howard Park is still open for ice skating, partially thanks to the twelve miles of refrigerated plumbing under the ice, and partially to our weather. As long as ice is safe (not melting too quickly, and not getting too low to the concrete below the ice), the park will stay open.

Jonathan Jones, Director of Recreational Experiences with South Bend Venues Parks & Arts, broke down the good, the bad, and the ugly weather conditions for maintaining the ice.

"I feel like I've become this kind of pseudo-weatherman, really paying attention to all these elements to figure out how long we can keep the ice going," Jones said. "We do need some help from the air and temperatures up above the ice to help sustain it."

Jones and the crew at the park hope for temperatures in the 40s. Temperatures in the 50s can also work, as long as there is not any rain. While there isn't a specific maximum temperature, typically temperatures in the 60s signal the end of the season as ice melts too quickly.

Overcast skies are more ideal than sun shining down on the ice. Cool overnight lows can mean frost develops on the ice, which helps protect ice from sun later in the day.

Temperatures in the 40s and 50s doesn't feel super winterlike, but will feel pleasant for us when we skate outdoors.

"We have our most desirable skating days with the warm weather, but as you can imagine, our least ideal ice conditions," Jones said.

The forecast heading into the weekend is sunny and dry with temperatures in the 40s. Howard Park is set to stay open until March 7, but Jones is hopeful that the park's season could possibly be extended until March 17 (depending on weather).

You do need to reserve a time online before you skate, which you can do here. Jones said the team will make the decision to open or close on specific days (based on weather) around two to three days in advance. If a weather cancellation is needed, they will offer a refund. Watch their website for updates.

Get in that last minute ice skate - once the ice has melted for the spring, the ice trail will not reopen until November.

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