ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants to remind people that just because winter weather is sticking around, that doesn’t mean winter activities are still safe.
The DNR says public safety officials have responded to more than a half-dozen ice emergencies across the state since the last week in March, usually involving fishermen or ATV riders breaking through thin or weak ice.
“The freeze-thaw cycle produces extremely weak ice that is dangerously deceptive in its appearance and how thick it measures,” said Lisa Dugan, recreation safety outreach coordinator. “A cold snap now doesn’t change the fact that ice already had begun melting and continues to deteriorate rapidly.”
The DNR says man of the state’s lakes are still covered by ice but that can change in a day or two at this time of year. Officials say ice conditions can even change dramatically in a matter of hours while the air temperature remains cold.
“We’ve had reports of anglers falling through ice that was just fine an hour earlier. That’s how fast things can change,” Dugan said. “If you do choose to venture onto late-season ice, use extreme caution. Use a chisel to check the strength of the ice frequently, be sure to wear a life jacket or float coat, and remember that no fish is worth the risk of losing your life.”
Minnesota has had five reported ice-related deaths so far for the 2017-2018 season and Dugan says this is no time to let down your guard.