Ice thickness report: 'Extreme caution is necessary'

Highly variable ice thickness on Minnesota lakes

Ice houses from Eddy's Resort
Ice houses from Eddy's Resort await customers in January 2016 on Lake Mille Lacs near Onamia, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News 2016

It’s that time of year. Minnesotans venture out onto lakes to ice-fish and enjoy lakes in winter.

skating carsons
Ice skaters on Carsons Bay on Lake Minnetonka in December 2012.
Paul Huttner | MPR News 2012

December ice thickness and stability on Minnesota lakes are typically sketchy. We’ve had some subzero air to help build some ice. The Twin Cities have logged four days with subzero temperatures so far this season. Duluth has recorded seven days at or below zero.

December temperatures are running 2.5 degrees colder than average so far in the Twin Cities. December is running more than 4 degrees colder than average in Duluth.

But we’ve also had some warm spells, and snow cover to insulate the ice from the cold air above.

Odle moves an ice house onto Mille Lacs.
John Odle Jr., co-owner of Rocky Reef Resort, moves one of his resort's larger ice houses out to the ice in January 2016 on Lake Mille Lacs near Onamia, Minn.
Derek Montgomery for MPR News 2016

The result is highly variable ice thickness on Minnesota lakes, over short distances. Check out this report from Lyback’s Ice Fishing on Lake Mille Lacs.

This year the ice depths are very inconsistent on the main lake ice and cannot be taken for granted that it’s the same. The thin ice and a lot of snow created areas of ice as thick as 10 inches and areas next to it as little as 3 inches and every area around the lake is different. Extreme caution is necessary.

Ice safety guidelines

Minnesotans are pretty savvy about ice safety. But every year we see vehicles, and sometimes people go through the ice.

Courtesy of Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Here are some good guidelines for ice thickness on Minnesota lakes.

Ice safety guidelines
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

Stay safe out there Minnesota!

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