As we gear up for another winter season and wait for the Lake to freeze, it is great time for all of us to review the review the following important ice safety information before snowmobiling adventures, ice fishing tournaments, and ice skating parties begin.
First and foremost, ICE IS NEVER 100% SAFE! Ice thickness and strength can vary drastically over the same body of water depending on age, temperature, snow cover, lake water depths, currents and natural springs, channels and bridges, pressure ridges, moving fish and waterfowl populations, and other factors. For example, white ice is half as strong as newer, clear ice. While no ice is entirely safe, the Minnesota DNR provides minimum ice thickness guidelines based on the intended activity.
The MN DNR or other agencies do not measure ice thickness on Minnesota lakes for official use. It is your responsibility to check ice thickness at least every 150 feet using an ice chisel, ice auger, or a cordless 1/4 inch drill with a long bit. Also park or locate vehicles at least 50 feet apart and move every two hours to prevent sinking. If water starts to overflow the top of the hole next to the vehicle or ice house, the ice is sinking and it’s time to move it.
Deicing Operations & Open Water
Certain facilities are licensed to have deicing operations on Lake Minnetonka under certain conditions. Watch for Thin Ice signs and use extra caution when recreating in bays with open water.
For more information about survival plans, vehicle escapes, and assisting others, visit https://www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/.