By the end of August, the weather patterns had already been very diffrent from the previous seasons. Usually the prevailing winds in the summer were from the east working the ice off the land and scattering it. However this year, the easterly winds were not so strong and constant as usual. The ice that had moved offshore returned in a pack so heavy that it was impossible to get a ship through it or hold against it with the anchor down.
There was a northeast gale on August 25 that drove the ice offshore less than eight miles and prohibited the fleet from getting away into the open water. Four days later, the ice trap began to close in on almost the entire Arctic fleet. Fortunately, seven of the ships wisely stayed west of the encroaching ice floes in the open waters.
Library of Congress