Snow and slush on lakes creates unsafe ice conditions
Even with recent cold conditions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports spotty ice conditions around the state due to snow that fell on thin ice before it had a chance to thicken.
"Even though we've had some good cold temperatures, the recent snow that blankets much of the state insulates the ice and slows the ice thickening process," said Tim Smalley, DNR water safety specialist. "The weight of the snow pushes down on the ice, causing water to seep from cracks. This creates a slushy mess on the ice surface."
Conservation officers from throughout the state report slush on many lakes with ice thicknesses ranging from 14 inches or more on some lakes down to 1 or 2 inches on others.
Tim Collette, from the Longville area of northern Minnesota, reports the ice is not safe for vehicle travel with several inches of snow over minimal ice.
Collette noted that an SUV and an ATV went through the ice last weekend on lakes in his area. He said both drivers escaped after cold swims with a valuable lesson about ice safety.
Brandon McGaw reports lakes in the Babbitt area of Minnesota's Iron Range have 6 to 8 inches of slush on top of 4 to 6 inches of ice.
While the DNR recommends 4 inches of new clear ice for ice activities on foot, slush adds weight and reduces the ice's carrying capacity.
"Folks who are planning on heading out on the ice need to call ahead to a local bait shop or a resort on the lake, to find out the current conditions," Smalley said.