The ice that forced the closing of the Cave-in-Rock ferry may be the first substantial ice floes reported in the area since the late 1970s.
"All of the boats were talking, and we think this is the first time since 1978 that we have seen this much ice," ferry operator Lonnie Ray Lewis said Thursday. "It just got to the point where the ice was breaking off more than we can make in a day."
Although the ferry will most likely be open today, Lewis said intermittent ice flows from the Wabash River into the Ohio River caused the ferry to close Wednesday and Thursday, the first time the ferry has done so because of ice in nearly a decade. Ice can damage a boat - from puncturing bumpers to scraping protective chemicals off the hull - and a big enough piece can threaten the integrity of a vessel.
"We took video, and every time a towboat hit one of these things there was a giant, echoing boom," Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said. "It was pretty incredible to hear."
Temperatures have hit the single digits several times in the past week, and while those daily high temperatures are set to rise over the weekend, the nightly forecast lows are still below freezing.
"Missing a day is better than missing a month," Lewis said.
Contact Corianne Egan, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8652 or follow @CoriEgan on Twitter.