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How Long Will Minnesota Ice Be Safe To Walk On?

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s been two weeks since ice houses cleared local lakes, but some are still ice fishing. So that got us wondering: With cold days like Sunday, is the ice still safe to walk on?

At Wayzata Bait and Tackle, this winter has contributed to a steady flow of business. That’s where Matt Robey and his two kids spent part of Sunday morning before they hit the ice.

“We’re getting more fishing in later, definitely.” Robey said. “We’ve had springs when the ice was not safe at this point, but this year, it seems to be okay.”

The store’s owner Tim Sonenstahl seems to agree.

“Absolutely it’s still worth fishing, there’s over 26 inches of ice in a lot of spots up here,” Sonenstahl said.

Thick in some places, but still there’s reason for caution.

Jacob Beitlich is with the National Weather Service in Chanhassen.

“If you get the cold temperatures, you’ll freeze the ice a little bit, but you still have that warm water underneath,” Beitlich said.

Beitlich says recent snow melt drains into lakes and water, so even though the air temps may be cold at the moment, the warmer ground water could cause melting from underneath.

“A couple of years ago, my uncle fell through the ice. It was one of those things where it was thick, but in this one area it was thinner because it was right next to where a culvert had come in,” Beitlich said.

DNR says this type of thing can happen, saying 4 inches is the minimum to safely walk. As far as ice outs, the average for Minnetonka is April 15 and for Mille Lacs it’s April 25. Here’s a list of median dates.

Here are some general guidelines on the safety and thickness of ice.

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