Even Though It’s Almost January, the Ice Is Not Safe!
It's been a warm start to the winter and some Minnesotans are still trying to drive on the ice that's barely formed. So far there's been 5 deaths this season from falling through ice.
Many Minnesotans are feeling the winter blues even harder this year because many "winter" type of activities have been stalled due to the warmer weather so far.
Generally by now, we've had below freezing temps and many lakes have safe ice to venture out on. This season has been a different story though. Not enough snowfall to snowmobile, and not enough cold to freeze the area lakes enough to drive on.
So far this year we've had 5 deaths related to falling through the ice. Last year there were a total of 2 deaths from winter drowning, and the previous year we had 0 deaths. So far this year we've more than doubled the amount of deaths, and the winter has just begun!
The highest number of ice related deaths on record was back in the 1982/1983 winter, where 22 deaths were reported. This is the same year (but in the next winter season that year) that temps in northern Minnesota reached -30 with 40 MPH winds, making it feel like -70 degrees.
Starting this weekend, we'll see below zero temps at night. Next week we'll be in a deep freeze with a Christmas day high of 1 above zero, and a low of -1 degrees. If those cold temps stick around then we should start seeing Minnesota lakes deep freeze very quickly, making the ice depth safe to be on.
It's important to know what ice depth is safe to walk or drive on. Here's what the MN DNR says:
4 inches - safe to only walk on
5 inches - safe to snowmobile on
8 to 12 inches - safe to drive on with a light vehicle
12 or more inches - safe to drive on with a heavier vehicle
Frozen lakes are never 100% safe to walk or drive on. Different areas of our Minnesota lakes have various ice thickness, with some areas that can be just a couple inches of ice thickness.
Before venturing on the ice, make sure to know the depth of the path you plan to take. If you fall through the ice, be sure you know the steps to get yourself out of the freezing water. The video below will give you helpful tips, should this ever happen to you.