The Montana Pond Hockey Classic was supposed to occur this coming Friday and Saturday (January 19, 20) up near Kalispell, but deteriorating ice conditions in Western Montana led officials to cancel the event. National Weather Service Meteorologist Jeff Kitzmiller says rapid temperature changes are likely the root cause.

"We don't really have many sensors that keep track of ice on lakes, but since we are watching all of the weather conditions: since temperatures have been fluctuating a lot, we had cold  a little while ago and then  now we're in this warmer more wet pattern where we've seen pretty good snow events, followed by rain, all of those pieces can make it difficult for ice to maintain on lakes."

It may not make sense at first, but recent precipitation likely led to bad ice conditions too.

"We've either had a snow layer that has insulated the lake and kept cold air from even getting down to thicken up the ice or adding rain to it that makes it really unstable, so I can see how we've had some trouble up north.Maybe even closer to Missoula it can be even worse because we've been warmer and had longer duration rain,        people should be really careful if they are venturing out onto ice.

This is the first year in a decade that the Pond Hockey Classic has had to be canceled because of a lack of safe ice.