Field report: Snow causing slush and ice woes for some Minnesota lakes

  • Updated: December 10, 2013 - 6:51 PM

The recent storm that blanketed much of the northern half of Minnesota with up to 2 feet of snow was a mixed blessing: It jump-started the snowmobile and cross-country ski seasons but created nasty slush conditions on many lakes and isn’t helping the formation of safe ice for anglers.

In fact, the recent subzero temperatures might give anglers and others who venture onto lakes a false sense of security, said Kara Owens, DNR boating and water safety specialist. Snow insulates the ice, slowing the formation of ice. The heavy snow also causes cracks and slush.

Some lakes have 4 to 8 inches of slush atop the ice, making travel difficult.

“Lakes had minimal ice prior to the storm; now in excess of a foot of snow on the ice has left lakes with deep slush, water and a few inches of ice,’’ reported conservation officer Troy Fondie of Orr.

“Ice conditions on our lakes are marginal with heavy snow causing slush over ice found to range from 3 to 7 inches thick, making motor vehicle use dangerous,’’ reported conservation officer Karl Hadrits of Crosby.

Said Owens: “Having this much snow this early in the season isn’t good for our ice. And the snow hides thin ice spots. Sometimes it’s better to be safe than sorry. I know folks want to go ice fishing and snowmobiling, but is it worth your life going on that trip across the lake?’’

Two snowmobile grooming machines fell through thin ice last weekend near McGregor; no injuries were reported. And anglers removed ice fishing houses from lakes in the Pequot Lakes area because of slush.

The DNR’s clear-ice thickness recommendations are 4 inches for walking, 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV, 8-12 inches for a car and 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

Despite the slush and bitter cold, anglers were reporting good fishing on Lake of the Woods and Upper Red Lake, among others.


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