Officials warn of thin ice during January warm-up

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Friday was a beautiful, record-breaking day to send Minnesotans into their weekends. So much so, that you could almost forget it’s January.

While the warmer temperatures are making some people happy, it also comes with a warning that we should be used to by now: beware of thin ice.

“It’s a little bit odd to be sweating in January,” said Peter Piche, who was ice skating on Lake Nokomis.

The sun was shining and the fish were biting Friday, too. For many on Lake Nokomis, that was the recipe for a great day.

“Who would have thought Jan. 4 I’d be out here almost in a t-shirt,” said Ryan Preston, who was fishing with his daughter.

Preston was out enjoying the day with his daughter. He said, despite a few thin ice signs near shore, mild temperatures aren’t a concern thanks to the ice thickness he’s seeing.

“It looks like 11-12 inches, but it’s been popping all day, making noises,” Preston said.

Lisa Dugan, with the Minnesota DNR, showed FOX 9 the depth of the ice on Lake Phalen.

“Looks like we have about 10 inches of ice in this location, but even 100 yards away we are looking at open water or water on top of ice under a bridge,” Dugan said.

Between possible currents under the water, salt runoff from roads and, especially, fluctuating temperatures this season, Dugan explains ice stability is not a guarantee - especially now.

“Once the ice has gone through the freeze-thaw cycle - which we’ve gone through a couple times this winter - it’s only about half as strong as it was,” Dugan said. “So, you want to double those ice thickness recommendations. When you go out and see snow-covered ice or milky…if it looks cloudy or white you want to add a couple extra inches before you go out.”

The DNR recommends carrying an ice pick, whistle and life jacket out onto the ice just in case you were to fall through. Others recommend sunglasses as well.

So far this season there have been five ice-related fatalities on Minnesota lakes and waterways. All of last season, there were six.