MINNETONKA, Minn. (WCCO) — With the long, cold winter we all endured, we weren’t sure this day would ever come.
The Freshwater Society and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Water Patrol officially made the call Thursday morning that the ice is now officially out on Lake Minnetonka.
Tom Skramstad of the Freshwater Society says that’s about a week later than the average date of mid-April.
“Docks go in, boats go out and grass gets green,” Skramstad said.
It’s Mother Nature’s way of ushering in a new season.
“There are 42 bays and channels on the lake, and they go out in a certain order and it ends up over in the Wayzata and Excelsior area,” he said.
Skramstad and members of Hennepin County’s Water Patrol worked together to determine when it would safe for boats on Lake Minnetonka.
“In a boat, we chase around the last vestiges of ice until we find the last one, which we did at 7:30 this morning,” he said.
Skramstad says because our winter was colder than normal, we had two to three feet of ice on the lake from December through March.
He says many thought this year’s ice out would happen sometime in May.
“It’s later than normal. The average ice out on Minnetonka is about April 14,” Skramstad said.
He says in order to call an ice out, boats need to be able to go from any shore into any bay or channel without getting caught up on chunks of ice.
“It doesn’t mean there can’t be some ice floating there, but it can’t be a solid block that blocks you from going,” he said.
The earliest date for ice out on Minnetonka was March 11 1878, and the latest was on May 8, 1854.
Only five times in the 134 years of recorded ice-out history has it been in May. One of those was last year, when the official ice out date was May 2.
This year’s fishing opener will be held in two weeks on Gull Lake in Nisswa, which is expecting an ice out sometime early next week.