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Authorities urge caution on ice ahead of Hockey Day Minnesota

The ice thickness of Lake Bemidji isn't exactly ideal right now.

In preparation for the flood of Hockey Day Minnesota traffic that's headed for Lake Bemidji, local authorities are warning visitors ahead of time about ice thickness.

The big event is happening next week, Jan. 17-19, and it looks like the mild winter that Minnesota's been enjoying (or not, depending on how you feel about winter) may dampen things a bit for those who enjoy driving their trucks on frozen lakes.

On Friday, the Beltrami County Sheriff's Department issued a press release saying "ice thickness and quality varies widely throughout" Lake Bemidji, urging visitors to take caution when they're out over the water.

That's not to say you can't walk or even drive on the ice, but with some areas at a thickness of 13 to 20 inches and others at just six inches at current measurements, the ice isn't as reliably or consistently thick as it would be under ideal circumstances.

The Minnesota DNR chart below indicates recommended ice thickness levels for fishing, snowmobiling and driving on a frozen lake:

Ice thickness chart

However, as the Beltrami County sheriff points out, "there is no exact science to how much weight a certain lake can support."

And, in addition to that, the news release says, "ice is never 100% safe."

That said, plunging into Lake Bemidji's freezing waters is precisely what some people will be there to do during Hockey Day Minnesota — for the annual Brrrmidji Plunge on Jan. 19.

As the Bemidji Pioneer points out, the event — where people purposely jump into freezing water, as the name implies — will be coinciding with Hockey Day, and it's expected to draw people from around the world. 

In other words, expect things to be extraordinarily busy on Lake Bemidji next week. 

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