The ice is officially out on Lake Minnetonka.
In what's become a longstanding tradition to kick off the official start to the boating season, the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and the Freshwater Society officially declared ice-out at 1:13 p.m. on Tuesday, March 30.
“We understand that people are ready to get outside and enjoy themselves after a long and difficult year,” Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said in a statement. “We’re encouraging everyone who wants to get out onto the lake to remember both general pandemic safety and water safety. We want people to get out and take advantage of the natural resources Hennepin County has to offer, but we want everyone to do so responsibly.”
Ice-out is declared on the lake when members of the sheriff's office Water Patrol and the Freshwater Society can safely boat through all the lake's channels and 37 bays without being obstructed by ice.
The sheriff's office is also reminding people to be safe out on the water, noting many of the navigational buoys are not in place yet. Boaters are also reminded to wear life jackets because water temperatures are cold and hypothermia can set in quickly if someone were to fall into the water.
The earliest ice-out date on Lake Minnetonka was March 11, 1878, and the latest ice-out date for the lake happened on May 5, 2018.
Dozens of lakes in southern Minnesota are already free of ice, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, many of which saw an earlier-than-average ice-out this year thanks to the above-average temperatures, as well as rain and plenty of wind this past month.