The ice (well, most of it) is gone on Lake Minnetonka.
Just after noon Saturday, the Freshwater Society and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office water patrol declared ice-out on the 14,500-acre lake, the largest in the metro area. This year’s ice-out date tied May 5, 1857, for late ice-out honors.
Ice-out came 21 days later than the median date of April 14, according to the Freshwater Society in St. Paul, meaning that half of recorded ice-outs have occurred earlier and half later. In the past 20 years, 14 ice-outs have been earlier than the median date, and six have been on it or later.
The lake, which has 37 bays, is declared ice-free when a boat can pass through channels and navigate all portions of the lake, the society said. Saturday’s determination was made after monitoring the ice from shore. Once conditions allowed, the water patrol began boat trips accompanied by Freshwater Society board members and friends to areas of the lake where significant ice remained.
On Saturday, Freshwater Society board member Kent Warden and water patrol deputies found some remaining ice, but they noted that all the lake’s bays and channels were fully navigable.
According to the Freshwater Society, “Ice-out on Lake Minnetonka is a sign of spring that scientists, naturalists and lakeshore residents have been tracking since at least 1855. The late Dick Gray, the lead founder of the Freshwater Society, cataloged the early records and made his own records from 1968 through 2013. Historically, ice-out has been determined by a number of methods — such as when a car placed on the ice fell through or when a boat could travel from Excelsior to Wayzata.”
For a list of this year’s ice-out dates on lakes across the state, go to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources website at dnr.state.mn.us.