'Ice Out' officially declared on Lake Minnetonka

It marks the start of what is sure to be a really weird boating season.
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Boating season has officially started with the declaration of "Ice Out" on Lake Minnetonka.

For those who like a wager on the official "Ice Out" time, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office says it was officially declared at 9:48 a.m. on Thursday, Apr. 2.

It comes after the sheriff's office water patrol and The Freshwater Society was able to navigate all of the channels and bays on the 14,500-acre lake without obstruction from ice.

The average Ice Out day usually falls around April 14, so it's earlier than usual this year. The earliest on record was March 17 in 2016, and the latest was May 5 in 1857 and 2018.

It marks the start of what is expected to be a strange boating season amid the restrictions currently in place for Gov. Tim Walz's "Stay at Home" order.

Even though that will eventually be lifted, community mitigation efforts for COVID-19 are expected to continue well into spring and even summer.

The "Stay at Home" order does allow for boating activities, provided people only go out on boats with people with whom they're currently living.

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Tying rafts or boats together however would be considered a gathering and as such as prohibited.

"Obviously, this is an unusual start to boating season,” said Hennepin County Sheriff David P. Hutchinson. 

"We know that not everyone who enjoys water recreation will be able to get out onto the lake due to the state’s Stay at Home order. However, we know that there will still be people getting out on the lakes as normal, and we’re encouraging everyone to keep basic water safety in mind."

The sheriff's office is warning people to use caution on the lake for now, as many navigational buoys aren't in place yet.

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