On thin ice

This scene on Bloody Lake last week has been a common one throughout Minnesota as warm weather makes lake ice increasingly precarious.

Temps, rain mean dangerous ice conditions on area lakes

By Per Peterson

It happens every year. And sometimes it happens more than once in the same region.
Another truck went through the ice on Bloody Lake in Murray County last week, making the second such incident in recent weeks.
Dan Ruiter, who is the Department of Natural Resources southern Minnesota information officer, said similar reports seem to be more prevalent this year, although he didn’t know of specific statistics to verify that.
“You have to remember that old ice is not as strong as new, clear ice,” Ruiter said. “We’ve had above normal temperatures really the last seven, eight days and, of course, the ice gets really weakened by that, as well as by the rain with water sitting on top of the ice.”
Ruiter said some sheriff’s departments in various counties in Minnesota have closed down access and/or have shut down any vehicle traffic on the lakes.
“Given the time of year it is, and the warm February, there are more wise choices you could make than to drive your vehicle out there,” he said. “I see some of the same things early on in the season as well, too. I have seen people out on lakes at times that I thought were way too early, or too late. Sometimes, those have bad endings, and we don’t want that.”
The Bloody Lake incident happened just west of Malone Point in an areas where the ice thickness was bout 11 inches at the time. Local resident Tom Byrne said the ice on Bloody Lake isn’t safe for cars or trucks at this point, especially with this week’s warmer weather.
“There are some four-wheelers on there now, but you never know — you hit a bad spot and … it’s pretty honeycombed right now, and it just got rained on, so I would say only foot traffic for now,” Byrne said.
The general guidelines of being on ice are 12”-15” for a medium-sized truck, 8”-12” for a car or small pickup, 5”-7” for a snowmobile or ATV, and 4” for activities on foot. However, in terms of those standard guidelines, Ruiter said, all rules “go out the window” when warm temperatures, age of ice and rain are factored in. All those factors speed up the thinning process on every lake, no matter how big it is.