Reporting Heather Brown
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Jonathan Smith of Concept Landscaping is not going to wait any longer to start working on Lake Minnetonka.
On Wednesday afternoon, he and his crew were on Spring Park Bay installing a new launch pad in the open water along the shore.
“It’s never-ending, the ice should have gone out two days ago,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of time on my hands because I’m waiting for this ice to melt.”
The median date for ice-out on Lake Minnetonka is April 14. The earliest was March 11 in 1878 and the latest was May 8 in 1854. Only five times in the last 134 years of recorded ice-out history has it been in May. Ice-out is declared when you can navigate a small boat from shore to shore on each bay and every passageway on the lake.
“It’s bordering on record-breaking, but we still probably won’t get close to the record,” said Jeanne Prok of the Freshwater Society. Her organization tracks the ice-out Lake Minnetonka.
Prok says there are 12-18 inches of ice on the lake right now. A week and half ago, it was closer to 18-24 inches. Her naturalist predicts ice-out to be just before May this year.
“We anticipate, when it does go out, it’ll go out quickly because the winds and rain will help,” she said.
That’s certainly the hope at Lord Fletcher’s, which can’t open its outdoor bar until they know its outside pipes and lines won’t freeze. Its volleyball pits are also still covered in patches of snow.
“It doesn’t look like I want to be barefoot out there anytime soon, that’s for sure,” said Fletcher’s patron Lucy Foster.
It might take a while to be able to walk barefoot, but according to long-time lake watchers, people might be able to get a small boat on the lake soon.
“Usually when the water is out eight feet from shore, it takes two weeks,” Smith said. “There’s warm weather coming, we can all hope.”