MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office declared ice out on Lake Minnetonka Tuesday at 1:13 p.m, marking the official start to Minnesota’s 2020 boating season.

The declaration came a few days before it did last year, which occurred on April 2.

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The county says the average ice out date is around April 13. The record for the earliest ice out was March 11 in 1878 — while the latest was recorded on May 5 in 2018.

The Sheriff’s Office declares ice outs each year, in partnership with Freshwater, after routinely patrolling Lake Minnetonka to monitor ice thickness until they are able to safely pilot a boat through all of the lakes’ channels and bays without obstruction by ice.

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This marks the second ice out consecutively declared amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We understand that people are ready to get outside and enjoy themselves after a long and difficult year,” Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said. “We’re encouraging everyone who wants to get out onto the lake to remember both general pandemic safety and water safety. We want people to get out and take advantage of the natural resources Hennepin County has to offer, but we want everyone to do so responsibly.”

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Here are the Sheriff’s tips for boating season:

  • Use caution when boating on Lake Minnetonka. There are many navigational buoys that are not in place yet.
  • Wear a life jacket. Water temperatures on all bodies of water are cold and hypothermia can happen quickly.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you will return.
  • Supervise children.
  • All recreational boats that have an enclosed accommodation compartment must be equipped with a watercraft carbon monoxide detector.