After a string of above-freezing days in the Twin Cities, experts are urging lake visitors to take precautions before driving or stepping out on the ice during the holidays.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not measure ice thickness, which can vary within a short distance. People should measure the ice themselves at least every 150 feet, according to the department's website.

People should stay off a lake if the ice is less than 4 inches thick, according to the DNR. Snowmobiles and ATVs can usually travel on ice thicker than 5 inches, while cars typically need ice that's anywhere from 8 to 12 inches thick.

The DNR recommends doubling those measurements with snow-covered ice, which is insulated and therefore half as strong as exposed ice.

Here are some other tips for safely moving on the ice:

Refrain from driving on ice if possible. If you do, roll the windows down and unlock the doors.

Do not drink alcohol on the ice, as it can impair your judgment in a dangerous situation.

Drill into the ice using an ice chisel, auger or cordless drill. Measure its thickness using a tape measure to grab the bottom edge.

Keep vehicles at least 50 feet away from each other and move them every two hours.

Wear a life jacket and carry ice picks or other gripping devices in case the ice breaks underneath you.

To pull yourself out, cover as much surface area as possible to prevent more ice from breaking. Lie flat and roll away until you reach safe ice.

Once you step off the ice, seek shelter and change clothes as quickly as possible.

In Minneapolis, Christmas Day will be greeted by fog, drizzle and a high of 40 degrees, according to the National Weather Service.

The milder temperatures are expected to continue throughout the week, with a high of 37 on Thursday and 32 on Friday. A chance of light snow is forecast for the weekend.

Miguel Otárola • 612-673-4753