For all who bet on when ice-out was going to happen this year on Lake Minnetonka, Mother Nature threw a curve ball.
Agencies patrolling the lake expected to declare ice-out — the much-anticipated sign of spring's arrival for boaters — at the beginning of March. But a cold snap slowed down the ice melt, postponing the ritual by more than two weeks.
On Monday, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and nonprofit Freshwater Society finally declared ice-out on the metro area's largest lake, signaling that the boating season will begin soon.
Other metro lakes, such as Harriet, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles in Minneapolis, all set records this year for their earliest ice-out dates after an unusually warm winter followed by rain and high winds. Lake Minnetonka's 2017 ice-out, however, wound up being closer to normal than record-setting.
Ice-out is declared on the 14,500-acre lake when a Sheriff's Office Water Patrol boat can navigate all channels and bays without being stopped by ice floes.
To check the status of other lakes in Minnesota, go to dnr.state.mn.us/ice_out/.