Minnesota has had three ice-related fatalities so far during the 2020-2021 ice season. Nearly every year, late-season ice results in dangerous fall-throughs when people try to enjoy the ice as the weather warms.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources urges people to be extremely cautious on and around the ice, as recent warm weather has deteriorated ice conditions across the state. Some lakes already have large areas of open water and there have been reports of vehicles breaking through.
Ice thickness varies widely across the state. In some places south of the Twin Cities, DNR conservation officers already are warning people to stay off the ice. Ice conditions near shorelines and public access sites are particularly poor. All across Minnesota, ice conditions become highly variable when the weather is warm and the sun gains strength.
“Take extra safety precautions around the ice right now,” said Lisa Dugan, recreation safety outreach coordinator for the DNR Enforcement Division. “Just because a particular spot was safe yesterday – or even an hour ago – doesn’t mean it is now.”
The most effective way for people to stay safe on the ice or open water is to wear a life jacket. Anyone who ventures onto late-season ice should wear ice picks, use a chisel and check the ice thickness frequently. They also should double the DNR’s ice thickness recommendations, which apply to new, clear ice. Ice thickness varies even on the same body of water, but particularly hazardous areas tend to be around bridges, channels, culverts and streams.
For more information about ice safety, visit www.mndnr.gov/icesafety.