By Jeff Wagner

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Ask most ice anglers to describe this winter so far and they will likely tell you the fishing’s been great. The ice, not so much.

WCCO caught up with Steven Nelson before he took his four-wheeler out onto Bald Eagle Lake.

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“Unless you got a [four] wheeler, you’re walking,” Nelson said.

A warmer-than-average December prevented many Minnesota lakes, especially around the Twin Cities, from having enough ice depth to safely drive a car onto them.

“Even Mille Lacs is kind of having issues getting wheel houses out,” Nelson said.

Steve Johnson runs Portside Bait Tackle and Liquor near Lake Mille Lacs, but he is also known for his ice condition updates. In his post dated Jan. 6, Johnson said Lake Mille Lacs varies more than he’s ever seen — and that there’s still treacherous spots.

“This year the resorts are definitely earning their keep and they haven’t been paid yet because there’s not a lot of road passes, there’s not a lot of people. But they are definitely looking out for you,” Johnson said.

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(credit: CBS)

It’s just one side effect of this wacky winter.

“The first seven days of January was the 10th warmest on record for the Twin Cities,” State Climatologist Pete Boulay said. “Six of the seven [days] we had 32 degrees or warmer. And now [Wednesday] is about 8-degrees-below normal, so that’s been our winter so far is wide fluctuation to warm and cold.”

When it comes to snow, Boulay said the Twin Cities has seen 25 inches this season, which is above average. But instead of small amounts here and there, it’s been a few large storms like the one that ended 2019.

“The ‘Farmer’s Almanac’ promised a parade of snow storms. Not sure if we had a parade. We’ve had a couple so maybe a two car parade so far,” he said.

Consistency might be just around the corner, only in the form of cold air, not snow.

“We look at Climate Prediction Center, they look out six to 10 to 14 to 18 days and they’re saying cold, cold, cold,” Boulay said. “It remains to be seen if snow is also with that cold. The temperatures are little bit easier to predict than where the storms are going to go.”

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On Jan. 8, 2019, Boulay pointed out how there was no snow on the ground, and 11 inches had fallen to the point of the season. Little did we know a few weeks later would be the snowiest February on record.

Jeff Wagner