Jim Gilbert's Nature Notes: The excitement of ice-out

  • Article by: JIM GILBERT , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 10, 2014 - 2:57 PM

People living near ponds and lakes have the good fortune of being able to directly observe the ice-out phenomenon. Although some believe that ice sinks when it goes out, that is not the case because ice is lighter than water.

The process starts with ice retreating from the shore, creating a belt of open water around the lake with a temperature of about 45 degrees. A wide band of ice beyond the open water then becomes soft and rotten while the rest of the ice cover turns dark. At this point, turtles and leopard frogs begin to break their winter hibernation in water near shore, emerging from the bottom sediments.

The main ice sheet weakens and begins to fracture in large sections when winds become strong enough to move it. This is followed by rapid melting of ice crystals on the edges of the floating sections as they come in contact with warmer water. Eventually wind will sweep the last ice sheets from the lake. As the ice sheets are pushed ashore, the remaining ice is generally in chunks up to 7 inches thick and honeycomb-shaped.

Some loose ice along a shore doesn’t mean the ice is still in, because a boat can easily be pushed through. I consider ice-out to have occurred when at least 90 percent of the lake is free of ice.

Ice-out is an exciting time. Common loons arrive on many lakes just as the ice is leaving. Soon fishing boats and sailboats will appear and docks will go in, as we are off and running into summer. During the early spring of 2012, the ice went out of Lake Minnetonka on March 21 and Lake Mille Lacs on March 26. 2013 was considered to be a late spring, and ice-out on Lake Minnetonka was May 2 and for Lake Mille Lacs was May 16.

Jim Gilbert’s Nature Notes are heard on WCCO Radio at 7:15 a.m. Sundays. His observations have been part of the Minnesota Weatherguide Environment Calendars since 1977, and he is the author of five books on nature in Minnesota. He taught and worked as a naturalist for 50 years.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.

ADVERTISEMENT

Chicago Cubs - LP: J. Arrieta 2 FINAL
Cincinnati - WP: D. Axelrod 7
NY Yankees - LP: S. Kelley 2 FINAL
Detroit - WP: P. Coke 3
Colorado - LP: J. Lyles 1 FINAL
San Francisco - WP: Y. Petit 4
Tampa Bay 2 Bottom 1st Inning
Baltimore 1
Atlanta 1 Bottom 2nd Inning
NY Mets 0
Cleveland - C. Carrasco 7:10 PM
Chicago WSox - J. Danks
Minnesota - T. Milone 7:10 PM
Kansas City - J. Guthrie
Texas - N. Tepesch 7:10 PM
Houston - C. McHugh
Oakland - S. Gray 9:05 PM
LA Angels - C. Wilson
Atlanta 21 2nd Qtr 0:48
Jacksonville 7
Detroit 0 1st Qtr 4:28
Buffalo 0
Indianapolis 0 1st Qtr 1:40
Cincinnati 0
Kansas City 0 1st Qtr 3:45
Green Bay 7
NY Jets 0 1st Qtr 7:10
Philadelphia 7
St. Louis 0 1st Qtr 3:13
Miami 0
Carolina 6:30 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 6:30 PM
NY Giants
Washington 6:30 PM
Tampa Bay
Baltimore 7:00 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 7:00 PM
Cleveland
Denver 7:00 PM
Dallas
Minnesota 7:00 PM
Tennessee
San Francisco 7:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:00 PM
San Diego
Seattle 9:00 PM
Oakland
(21) Texas A&M 24 2nd Qtr 3:35
(9) So Carolina 14
Wake Forest 7 1st Qtr 3:35
ULM 0
Boise State 7:00 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Tulane 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Temple 8:15 PM
Vanderbilt
Rutgers 9:00 PM
Washington St
Weber State 9:30 PM
(19) Arizona State
BYU 8/29/14 6:00 PM
Connecticut
(6) Jacksonville St 8/29/14 6:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Bowling Green 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Western Ky
TX-San Antonio 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Houston
Colorado State 8/29/14 8:00 PM
Colorado
UNLV 8/29/14 9:30 PM
Arizona
Penn State 8/30/14 7:30 AM
UCF
Troy 8/30/14 11:00 AM
UAB
(7) UCLA 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Virginia
Western Mich 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
(5) Ohio State 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Navy
Appalachian St 8/30/14 11:00 AM
Michigan
Ga Southern 8/30/14 11:30 AM
NC State
Boston College 8/30/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
West Virginia 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(2) Alabama
Rice 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(17) Notre Dame
(10) South Dakota St 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(24) Missouri
Fla Atlantic 8/30/14 2:30 PM
(22) Nebraska
California 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Marshall 8/30/14 2:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
UC Davis 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(11) Stanford
Arkansas 8/30/14 3:00 PM
(6) Auburn
(16) Clemson 8/30/14 4:30 PM
(12) Georgia
Liberty 8/30/14 5:00 PM
(23) North Carolina
Ohio U 8/30/14 5:00 PM
Kent State
Louisiana Tech 8/30/14 6:00 PM
(4) Oklahoma
Idaho 8/30/14 6:00 PM
Florida
Stephen F Austin 8/30/14 6:10 PM
(20) Kansas State
Fresno State 8/30/14 6:30 PM
(15) USC
Southern Miss 8/30/14 6:30 PM
Miss State
Texas-El Paso 8/30/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
North Texas 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Texas
(1) Florida State 8/30/14 7:00 PM
Oklahoma State
(14) Wisconsin 8/30/14 8:00 PM
(13) LSU
South Dakota 8/30/14 9:30 PM
(3) Oregon
(25) Washington 8/30/14 9:30 PM
Hawaii
Utah State 8/31/14 6:00 PM
Tennessee
SMU 8/31/14 6:30 PM
(10) Baylor
Miami-Florida 9/1/14 7:00 PM
Louisville
Arizona 9/4/14 7:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Ottawa 8/29/14 6:30 PM
Montreal
Winnipeg 8/31/14 3:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Toronto 9/1/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 9/1/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
Brt Columbia 9/5/14 6:30 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 9/6/14 6:00 PM
Edmonton
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close