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DNR urges caution as ice begins to form on Minnesota lakes

Nov 24, 2020 06:09AM ● By Editor
A sign warns of danger as ice thaws on a pond.  Photo: Getty Images/stockphoto

By Jeremiah Jacobsen of KARE 11 News - November 23, 2020

As temps start to tumble heading into winter, ice is beginning to form on many of Minnesota's waterways.

However, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging people to be cautious around newly formed ice.

The DNR said ice thickness can vary greatly early in the season; and even where ice hasn't formed yet, the water temperatures are dangerously cold.

“The first ice-fishing trip of the season is exciting, but there’s no fish that is worth falling through the ice,” said Rodmen Smith, director of the DNR Enforcement Division, in a news release. “Vigilance around the water at this time of year isn’t just a good idea – it’s an absolute necessity.”

The DNR recommends that people stay off of any ice until there's at least four inches of new, clear ice. Ice thickness should also be checked every 150 feet.

The Minnesota DNR recommends the following minimum ice thickness guidelines:

  • 4 inches for ice fishing or activities on foot
  • 5-7 inches for a snowmobile or ATV
  • 8-12 inches for a car or small pickup
  • 12-15 inches for a medium truck
  • Double these minimums for white or snow-covered ice

In a news release, DNR officials also recommended these guidelines to minimize risk when venturing onto the ice:

  • Always wear a life jacket or float coat on the ice (except when in a vehicle).
  • Carry ice picks, rope, an ice chisel and tape measure.
  • Check ice thickness at regular intervals; conditions can change quickly.
  • Bring a cell phone or personal locator beacon.
  • Don’t go out alone; let someone know about trip plans and expected return time.
  • Before heading out, inquire about conditions and known hazards with local experts.

To see the original report and related articles, follow this link to the KARE 11 News website.

Watch an Ice Safety Video here

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