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.
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