Thin Ice Warning

Although ice has been forming on many area lakes on the shorelines, bays and shallow areas, it's important to keep in mind that we need more cold nights for the ice to reach adequate thickness, before it is safe for recreation. With some accidents occurring in Minnesota already this season, and too many in past seasons, we'd like to take a moment to remind our local community how to know when it's safe and why it's important to care! The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should: carry a set of ice picks, check with a local bait shop — ask about ice conditions— and measure the ice. Because ice thickness can vary across an area, make sure you check more than one spot. DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:

  • 4 inches for walking.
  • 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
  • 8-12 inches for a car.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

It's also important to keep an eye on other factors and features of the ice, and rely on the combination of factors, rather just on one (i.e. ice thickness). Ice safety is determined by assessing the following factors together:

  • Appearance of the ice - its color, texture and features
  • Thickness of the ice - there are recommended thicknesses for different uses, which are set out below
  • External temperature over a period of time and on the day
  • Snow coverage
  • Depth of water under ice
  • Size of water body
  • Local climate fluctuations

We are all ready to get out on the ice and enjoy the cold Minnesota weather, whether your favorite activity is snowmobiling, x-country skiing or ice fishing on the lake. The excellent Minnesota winter recreation is one of the main reasons we put up with the cold winters here, right? Let's all make a point to stay safe and wait until the ice is ready, before going out on the lakes.