This is a tough year to have your hopes tied to ice.
The warm winter that's canceled Twin Cities pond hockey tournaments and frustrated ice carvers at St. Paul's Winter Carnival may also make it impossible to visit the Apostle Islands ice caves this year on Wisconsin's Lake Superior shore.
With the strong El Nino weather pattern this year and national weather experts predicting it will continue into early 2016, "We have seen much warmer than average temperatures this fall/early winter," officials with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore wrote. "This doesn't mean that the Ice Caves won't be accessible this winter, but it's less likely than the last two years."
• Feb. 2014: Photos: Inside the majestic Lake Superior ice caves
During 2014's cold and long winter, more than 138,000 people visited the caves. It was the first time they'd been accessible to the public in five years and visitors couldn't get enough.
Warmer weather last winter delayed the opening of the caves but when they did open some 11,200 people showed up in the first weekend, braving slippery conditions and happy to pay a new fee to walk the caves.
The Park Service is promising regular updates on its Facebook page about the state of the ice and potential for opening the ice cave trails.
On Sunday, though, rangers acknowledged that the wind had "unlocked the ice and opened up the pack at Meyers Beach," the main spot on the Wisconsin Lake Superior shoreline where people start their ice cave visits.
"The ice is far from safe," the Park Service said, adding that "warm temps in the 10 day forecast are not encouraging for good ice formation."