Thin ice cancels popular winter events across Minnesota

It may look like winter out there --- but it's not been a typical Minnesota winter so far. Inconsistent, thin ice has created unsafe conditions throughout Minnesota, leading the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to issue thin ice warnings on many of the metro’s popular lakes.

The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships are still on at Lake Nokomis starting on Thursday, but while the ice there is reportedly fine, other lakes in Minnesota are not so lucky.

“The ice remains inconsistent statewide. There is nowhere in the state where you can say yes, the ice is safe,” Debbie Munson Badini, a DNR boat and lake safety official, says.

In Chaska, eight inches of ice on Fireman’s Lake forced next Saturday’s ice fishing fundraiser off the lake and inside the new lakeside facility. 

It’s the second year in a row thin ice has tanked the ice fishing contest. But the Chaska Fire Department chief says he’ll call it off again if he has to.

“We’re a public safety entity and we're not going to risk anything happening for people being out on the lake if we have any question at all,” the chief said.

Last weekend, the North American Pond Hockey Championships on Lake Minnetonka were called off due to thin ice as well.

Safe Ice Guidelines

4 inches for ice fishing
5 inches for snowmobiles
8 to 12 inches for a car
At least 12 inches for a pickup

However, the DNR says it’s important to keep in mind the thickness of the ice can vary across the lake.

“Even within the same body of water you can from ten inches of ice and a foot later be at four so there really isn't any way to say that ‘Yes , it’s good here or there,’” Munson Badini says.

But, pushing thin ice this time of year is no easy sell.

“When you're trying to sell thin ice at the end of January that just doesn't compute for us here in Minnesota, but it is true the ice is not consistent it's not safe,” Munson Badini says.

The DNR says if you're one of those people who just can't follow the warnings and stay off the ice at least wear a lifejacket, just in case.