Heavy snow prompts thin ice warnings

Last year in mid-January, more than a dozen art shanties set up shop in the middle of a frozen Lake Harriet. This year, the event will be held on the banks of the lake, thanks to Mother Nature.

"It's certainly disappointing to not be on the frozen lake, but we are inspired we are ahead of it and have a lovely place to be," said Art Shanty Projects art director Erin Lavelle.

Organizers say at the beginning of the year, ice on the lake was 13 inches thick, but the blanket of snow brought by last week's winter storm has reduced the ice thickness to 6 inches where the village would be.

Organizers say they need at least 10 inches of ice for the art shanty projects to be safe for both the structures and the 28,000 visitors who come to see them.

"We just don't want to put artists or visitors in a position where it could be precarious," said Lavelle.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol says there's between 8 to 14 inches of ice on Lake Minnetonka, but there are spots where the ice is much thinner. And with 8 to 12 inches of heavy wet snow on top of that, the ice below isn't as strong as it has been in years past.

"Ice is never safe. That's what we always say," said Sgt Troy Kostohryz. 

The water patrol says a couple of snowmobiles have gone through the ice on the lake this year in the channels and our recent warmer temps could make the ice deteriorate even further.

"Ice is great. It's nice to get out on the Minnesota lakes. Just make sure you are cautious when you are going out on the lakes. Be on the lookout for ice that may be thin or ice that is wet," said Sgt Kostohryz.