With Unusually Warm Weather, Ice Out Coming Earlier Than Expected

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Our major winter warmup has led to a big time meltdown on Minnesota lakes.

Three people had to be rescued in Chisago County yesterday after falling through thin ice on Moody Lake. On Gray’s Bay on Lake Minnetonka, a deputy ended up in waist high water while checking on a man trying to remove his ice house.

With so much open water on Lake Minnetonka and so little ice left, it’s hard to believe anyone would step foot on it, but it’s still happening.

“The ice isn’t stable — it hasn’t been stable for a couple of weeks,” Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said. “We’ve been telling people that, and every time somebody ventures out onto the ice, they take risks — risks of their own personal safety and risks to those who have to come get them in case something bad happens.”

Matthew Thompson spent the day in the water in Wayzata Bay, clearing out garbage caught in the temporary thin-ice fencing.

“The water’s warmer than it’s ever been when I’ve gotten in this time of the year,” he said.

Thompson grew up sailing on Lake Minnetonka. He says he’s never seen a winter like this on on the lake before.

“It’s been kind of wild to watch this winter,” he said. “It’s been super thin and the ice has been moving a lot all winter. I’ve never seen pressure ridges in Wayzata Bay before. We kind of had the ice attack, so to speak. It came after our ramps and things.”

While there’s still a good bit of thin ice out on the lake, there’s plenty of open water Wayzata Bay. There’s enough open water for a boater to get dockside at Maynard’s in Excelsior Sunday.

While the major meltdown means premature fun for some, for Thompson it means getting back to work quickly.

“Freaks me out, but more sailing I guess. I’ll take advantage of it,” he said. “It’s gonna be weird for our business model though. All the kids want to get going, and we don’t have a plan yet, but we’ll figure it out.”

Monday is officially the deadline to remove ice houses in central and southern Minnesotan. For ices houses in northern Minnesota your deadline is March 20.

For a map of the areas included and more information, visit the DNR’s website.

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