We recently came across an article by John A. Downing, Director at Minnesota Sea Grant, and Prof. Large Lakes Observatory that lists a tool that he created to help predict ice out on Minnesota lakes called the Minnesota Lake Ice-In and Ice-Out widget .
Getting good at predicting the timing of Minnesota lake ice-out times has broad and far reaching implications. Obviously waterfront property owners are naturally curious, and sometimes downright anxious to know when the ice will come off of the lake so they can begin doing all of their fun summer lake activities as early as possible. For starters putting the dock or boat lift into the lake, and getting the boat or pontoon into the water is right near the top of most Minnesota lake cabin owners' priority lists, along with opening up the cabin, getting the water turned on (for those who aren't at the lake full time / year-round) etc. Being able to check many of these activities off of the to-do list usually requires the ice being off of the lake. When you consider that you really have around 12 warm summer weeks to enjoy open water during a typical Minnesota summer, the hope is almost always that the ice will come off the lake early, thereby increasing the length of your time on the water.
According to the article, the average date range for Ice Off in Northern Minnesota is between March 25, and May 15th. That's a span of seven weeks!! Imagine if you had seven additional weeks to get ready for, and enjoy your time at the lake.
There is a broader economic impact for businesses that rely on ice-off on Minnesota lakes as well. Resorts, cabins, boat and watersports rental locations, lake area towns that rely heavily on summer tourism, not to mention waterfront equipment providers like Lake Area Docks & Lifts are all dependent in some way or another of the timing of the ice-out on area lakes.
In addition to the Minnesota Ice-Out Widget created by John A. Downing, the Minnesota DNR has an excellent tool that provides historical data on lake ice out dates for select lakes in Minnesota including the Ice out date for a selected year, the median ice out date based on available data, the earliest ice out date, the latest ice out date, and the period of record. This information is all collected by the MN DNR and citizen volunteer lake ice observers.
It's an incredibly handy tool to help you plan for and prepare for ice out on your favorite Minnesota lake. You can get a good idea of the ice out on your particular lake, even if the data does not exist for it, by analyzing the information available from a lake that is near yours.
You can check out the Minnesota Ice Out Dates Map and all of the related information by heading to the MN DNR website.
What To Do With The MN Lake Ice Out Data?
Now that you are equipped with the tools and data to help you plan for lake ice-off on your favorite Minnesota lake, what can you do with this information? Well for starters you can make sure that you are ready for that golden moment when the ice comes off of your lake by making plans to be at the cabin to get your waterfront equipment ready for install, make sure the HVAC system is ready for the spring and summer months, perhaps turn on the water and make sure everything else is in order.
You can also take this data and possibly win some bets with your neighbors at the lake. Doesn't everybody love to guess the ice off date on their lake? To be fair, you might want to let them know that you are now basing your guess more on scientific data, rather than just gut instinct and a quick read of the Farmers Almanac, because good neighbors are hard to come by, and it's always best to keep them on your good side, right?
If you are still in the market for a new dock or lift, Lake Area Docks & Lifts can help you out. A late ice out for the 2023 season might be a blessing in disguise for you. If you have been meaning to shop around for a new dock or lift, but just haven't been able to find the time, stop in or give us a call, there is still time to get your waterfront equipment ordered, and a late ice means it could be a few weeks before it gets installed anyway. Just don't wait too long, or you risk missing an important, and valuable part of those 12 short weeks of summer in Minnesota.
Northern MN Could Have A Late Ice Out
We're heading into the month of April and you can be sure of two things; 1.) The snow and Ice will eventually melt opening up the lake for your enjoyment, and, 2.) Smart waterfront property owners have either already planned and ordered their new dock or lift, or they are wrapping up their choices right now before March ends, and before the huge spring rush to get all of that new waterfront equipment installed in the water. Those waterfront property owners that have already ordered their new docks and lifts have afforded themselves the best opportunity to kick off the 2023 boating season with a new dock or lift (or accessories), and minimal, or zero delays to the start of their summer on the lake, because they are typically first in line when in comes to installation. If you are still waiting to purchase your new dock or lift, you not only risk the potential for product delays, but you will also struggle to find installers squeezing you into their already overbooked schedules.
Rasmusson also said "Last summer was tough on new waterfront property owners that closed on their properties later in the summer. We were able to help our customers out, but it sounds like a lot of manufacturers and dealers ran out of inventory early in the year and couldn't satisfy some of that late season demand."
Do I Still Have Time To Purchase My Dock and Lift and Have It Installed This Spring?
You absolutely still have time to purchase your new dock or lift and have it installed this spring. But if you are reading this in April, and you still haven't pulled the trigger on your new waterfront equipment, you really are running out of time to make sure that you can take advantage of every ice-free day on the water that's available this summer, because you are already several months behind other waterfront property owners who have already planned, designed, and purchased their waterfront equipment. So, if you are still on the fence about whether or not to finally buy that new dock or lift, don't wait any longer, now is the time to finalize the decision, so you can relax while the snow and ice melts, knowing that you will in fact be out on the water early this spring and summer.
What About SeaLegs Canopy Anchoring?
Proper Anchoring plays a critical role in the construction of a SeaLegs canopy system. This is due to the fact that the boat weight is not on the SeaLegs canopy system, and without proper anchoring it can be susceptible to strong winds. The corners on the base of a sea leg canopy frame should be reinforced because that is where the stress is. The stronger the corner reinforcement, the better.
Two types of anchoring systems exist for the Lake Area Docks and Lifts SeaLegs Canopy System, one style features galvanized pipes with augers at the four corners of the canopy system, and the other utilizes landscape augers and chain affixed to the SeaLegs canopy frame. Experience has shown that the landscape auger with chains might be the stronger, or preferred method of anchoring your SeaLegs canopy system because the landscape augers can typically be drilled further into the lake bottom, and the chains allow you to spread the augers out and away from the SeaLegs canopy frame structure for additional stability (similar to the anchoring of a large canopy / tent).
What Is The Right SeaLegs Canopy System For My Pontoon, and Lakeshore?
Lake Area Docks & Lifts offers two types of sea leg canopies, a free standing SeaLegs Canopy System, and a dock mounted SeaLegs Canopy System. The dock mounted sea leg canopy might be considered the best option because the uprights of the canopy frame are attached directly to a dock system. However, a dock mounted SeaLegs Canopy System requires a strong dock, and a slip for the canopy to be mounted on. If you don’t currently have a dock system configured in a slip with a dock along both sides and the front of the pontoon, the dock mount SeaLegs Canopy will not work at your location. A dock mounted SeaLegs Canopy system can be considered stronger than a free-standing SeaLegs Canopy because the dock system itself provides additional structure and weight for the canopy system which creates a stronger base. In addition, the dock mount SeaLegs Canopy system does not require a frame at its base because the uprights are attached to the dock frame. This provides more clearance in shallow water as there is no base to get in the way of the sea legs during operation. In cost they will range from $6000 to $8000. One thing to consider though, if you choose a dock mounted SeaLegs Canopy System is that you may also have to purchase additional dock sections to complete a slip.
A SeaLegs Canopy system will allow you to enjoy your pontoon more, and protect it from sun, wind, rain, and dust without the hassle of snapping a traditional cover on your pontoon at the end of every day on the water. You will truly find yourself using your SeaLegs fitted pontoon much more often when you can simply park it underneath the LA Dock SeaLegs Canopy system. Summer is short, we want to help you make the most of it!
Lake Area Docks & Lifts Blog
Tips on purchasing new and used docks, boat lifts and accessories, plus stories, photos, and videos from our time on the water.