By WCCO-TV Staff

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Officials in the Twin Cities are encouraging those heading out on frozen lakes this holiday weekend to be careful, warning that ice on area lakes is “extremely unpredictable and highly unsafe.”

“Although the temperatures are low enough to freeze our lakes, the safety risk on the ice still remains very high,” Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson said in a statement Thursday.

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Over recent days, water patrol deputies have checked for unsafe spots on area lakes and have found significant differences in ice thickness, Hutchinson said. While some areas were safe with 7 inches of ice others were not, with less than 4 inches.

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According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, ice should be at least 4 inches thick before walking on it, 5 inches thick for riding a snowmobile on it, and 8 inches thick before driving a car on it.

Hutchinson is urging those who plan to venture out onto lakes this weekend to carry ice picks and a throw bag to possibly help others.

Over the last week, several people riding ATVs on frozen lakes across Minnesota fell through the ice. One 60-year-old woman died after falling into Kabekona Lake in Hubbard County.

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According to WCCO meteorologists, the holiday weekend will sunny with daily high temperatures climbing into the upper 20s. Next week, temperatures are expected to punch above freezing, leading to possible thawing.