Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officers urge people to exercise extreme caution on and around lake ice, as conditions in some parts of the state have deteriorated rapidly. Several people and vehicles have fallen through the ice in recent days, continuing a trend that has played out for much of this winter.
While thick ice remains in some areas, especially to the north, conservation officers in areas south of the Twin Cities already are warning people to stay off the ice. In some instances, the ice is deteriorating around the edges of lakes, while in others conservation officers report large holes in ice away from the shore. All across Minnesota, ice conditions become highly variable when the weather is warm and the sun gains strength.
“Just because you were on the ice at this time last year – or the year before that – doesn’t mean the ice is safe this year,” said Lisa Dugan, recreation safety outreach coordinator for the DNR Enforcement Division. “The calendar isn’t a useful tool in determining the quality of the ice. The only thing that matters is the current ice conditions.”
Minnesota has had only one ice-related fatality during the 2019-2020 ice season. But nearly every year, fatal incidents happen when people engage in late season ice-top recreation.
The most effective way to stay safe on the ice or open water is to wear a life jacket. Anyone who ventures onto late-season ice should use a chisel and check the ice thickness frequently. Ice thickness varies even on the same body of water. Particularly hazardous areas tend to be around bridges, channels, culverts and streams. To learn how to check ice thickness, visit the DNR’s ice thickness guidelines page.
For more information about ice safety, visit mndnr.gov/icesafety.