The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office is warning people against driving on frozen bodies of water, which are melting earlier than anticipated.
Unseasonably warm weather in the last few days has caused the ice to deteriorate along lake shorelines, access points and channels, according to the Sheriff’s Office. Several lakes and rivers across the county also have open areas of water and should not be used to host activities.
“I want to stress the importance of ice safety,” Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek said in a statement. “Driving on the ice right now could be a life-threatening risk.”
The Sheriff’s Office is reminding people to check the thickness of the ice before going out. Four inches is the recommended minimum for pedestrians and small groups, and 8 inches is the minimum for vehicles.
Officials are asking people to refrain from driving on lakes posted with “Thin Ice” signs, and they warn that the thickness can vary greatly across a body of water.
The warm weather has forced many outdoor ice rinks and warming houses in the west metro area, including some in St. Louis Park, Bloomington and Golden Valley, to close for the season.
However, golf driving ranges across the metro area are opening earlier than anticipated.
A high of 61 is expected Friday in the Twin Cities, according to the National Weather Service.
The record high for the same date is 55, while the average is 30 degrees.
Record or near-record highs are expected for the rest of the Presidents’ Day weekend, with showers and isolated thunderstorms forecast for Monday.