Lake Minnetonka officially went ice-free Tuesday morning, a major sign of spring for the metro area and yet another unusually early one.
The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office declared the lake clear at 5 a.m. On Monday, White Bear Lake, on the opposite side of the metro area, also was declared ice-free.
The Freshwater Society, which has monitored ice conditions for many years on Lake Minnetonka, had not made an ice-out call by midafternoon Tuesday.
The earliest ice-out date on Minnetonka in the society's records is March 11, 1878. The second-earliest was March 18, 2000.
The Sheriff's Office declares an ice out on Lake Minnetonka when a boat can be piloted through the "Narrows" around Big Island and back to the Sheriff's Water Patrol Unit located on Lake Minnetonka in Spring Park. The Freshwater Society's standard is the moment a boat can be piloted from any point on shore to any other point through any channel.
White Bear Lake's ice-out Monday was the earliest in records going back to 1928.