Is It Safe To Be Out On Southern Minnesota Lakes Yet?
Some brave souls have been testing the ice conditions in the Northern part of Minnesota for several weeks. Unfountanely, in certain parts of the state, large lakes remain partially unfrozen.
December has surprised us with rain, snow, and fluctuating temperatures: all of which have had an impact on ice-making and preexisting ice.
In light of all that, how can one determine if a frozen lake is safe enough to walk or drive on?
First of all, never rely on other people's footprints, tracks, or social media posts. The ice is constantly changing.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources stresses the importance of checking the ice thickness with a spud bar, auger, or other devices before venturing onto any frozen surfaces.
The minimum ice thickness guidelines for new, clear ice are:
- 4 inches for ice fishing or other activities on foot.
- 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle.
- 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup.
- 12-15 inches for a medium truck.
- Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice.
*Beware: the thickness of ice may vary even on the same body of water.
Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director said:
"The week between Christmas and New Year’s is typically the kickoff of the ‘wheelhouse season,’ and we anticipate it’ll be the same this year, especially in the northern part of the state. Whether you’re walking onto the ice or hauling out a shelter you’ll sleep in, checking the ice thickness regularly is absolutely vital and one of the easiest ways to ensure tragedy doesn’t strike before you arrive at your fishing spot."
Whether you're a pro-ice-fisher or this is your first season on the ice, be cautious and check the ice thickness regularly.