Winter water level?

Hello everyone,
First year above groung pool owner here. 24' round, deck built 3/4 distance around, winter was coming and was time to cover it up.
Left over hurricane and rains knocked over a big tree which missed the pool except for a branch which hit the coping (bent it) and ripped the cover in several places. I patched the biggest rip (I could reach it) and then I put a 15'x4.5' inflate pillow under the over to keep the smaller holes out of the water.
Now winter is here and the cover has frozen water on it. The water level in the pool had been lowered to below the skimmer but now the water level includes a thick layer of ice and is about 1 1/2" below where the liner slips into the channel in the frame.
I didn't think there would be much water transfer into the pool from the holes as they were out of the water. Local pool comany says that it's just the weight of the water/ice on the cover that rose the level.
I was toying with the idea of busting a hole in the ice and syphoning out some water but I don' want the slab of ice built under the cover to rub and maybe tear the liner as it sinks lower in the pool.
What happens is the pool freezes over the top? Does it just run and freeze over or does it take parts with it?
What do you think?
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You need advice from the local pool store about expected winter temperatures and precipitation. We get several feet of snow over up to 4 months. I empty half the water from my pool before putting on the cover. Winter ice atop the cover can get to a foot thick or more, and the weight is carried on the (frozen) 20" of water below. No problems so far.
-- Don Phillipson Carlsbad Springs (Ottawa, Canada)
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