It's been a tricky winter for doing anything on the lakes. With a January thaw, the varied temps have made it a lot less safe to be out on the lake, especially with a vehicle.

"I've never seen this thin of ice this time of year before," said Nicholas Detienne, an ice fisherman.  "I just take my side-by-side out,” said Detienne. “I leave my pickup on the boat launch to lessen my risk of going through the ice."


As of this week, there is the minimum thickness of ice on most lakes to support a vehicle. But that can vary from spot to spot according to Hennepin Co Water Patrol.  "Last winter we had a lot of ice,” said Deputy Alan Lange with the Hennepin County Sheriff's Department Water Patrol. “Upwards of 30 inches of ice. A lot of clear ice. This winter it’s on the lighter side. You gotta use some caution because it’s not like normal winters."

Parts of the lakes have been thawed and re frozen several times, making for a weaker ice cover. "My best advice would be stay off all together,” said Deputy Lange. “There are plenty of areas on this lake that are easily walkable from shores. There's no need to drive out."

According to the Minnesota DNR, ice should never be considered 100 percent safe, and it’s wise to know the general ice thickness safety guidelines:

  • Under 4 inches – stay off
  • 4 inches – Ice fishing or other activities on foot
  • 5-7 inches – Snowmobile or ATV
  • 8-12 inches – Car or small pickup
  • 12-15 inches – Medium truck
  • White ice or :Snow ice is only half as strong as clear ice, so double above numbers for white ice.


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