Skip to main content
Publish date:

Sheriff: Twin Cities lake conditions still unpredictable

In some lakes, patches of thin and thick ice can be close together
Lake Harriet covered in snow Thursday. While it appears to be mostly frozen over, snow can make it more difficult to visually gauge thickness of ice. Lakes can have patches of safe and unsafe ice close together. 

Lake Harriet covered in snow Thursday. While it appears to be mostly frozen over, snow can make it more difficult to visually gauge thickness of ice. Lakes can have patches of safe and unsafe ice close together. 

As the holiday weekend arrives, Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson has issued a release warning people to double check ice conditions before walking or driving ATVs on lakes, which he says are currently "extremely unpredictable and highly unsafe."

While some lakes in the Twin Cities have become popular spots for ice skating in recent weeks, the conditions can vary from one day to the next — and even on the same lake. 

The DNR recommends that ice should be at least four inches thick  — which you can measure by drilling a hole — before walking on it. But in some cases, Hennepin County deputies are finding seven-inch thick ice within a few feet of three-inch-thick ice, Hutchinson said in the release. 

Ice Thickness DNR Guidelines Graphic

Several accidents, including fatal ones, involving people falling through ice have occurred across the state this month. 

“Although the temperatures are low enough to freeze our lakes, the safety risk on the ice still remains very high,” Sheriff Hutchinson said in the release. 

Hutchinson gives these tips for safety: 

  • Patches of thin ice can be covered by snow
  • Carry ice picks for self-recovery
  • Carry a small throw bag so that you can help others if they fall through the ice
  • Don't panic if you start to fall through the ice — return back in the direction you walked on. 
  • Check ice thickness repeatedly as you move out
  • Areas of animal activity, like muskrats, can greatly weaken ice

If you do fall through, experts recommend taking a minute to catch your breath and locate ice in the direction you came from.

Then, extend your arms to reach the ice and kick in the water so that you can horizontally propel yourself back on to the ice. As you approach the ice, stay horizontal so that your body is evenly distributing weight across the ice.  Kare 11 aired this video last year with an example. 

Next Up

D'Angelo Russell

With KAT out, Timberwolves can't upset Nets

D'Angelo Russell stepped up but couldn't overcome Brooklyn's firepower.

Everson Griffen Vikings dot com

Everson Griffen confirms he has bipolar disorder

"I’ve been running from it a long time. I’m not ashamed of it anymore.”

Angela Renee Jones, St. Cloud murder suspect

St. Cloud suspect now charged in two local murder cases

Both murders happened within a day of each other in June.

st anthony 3 crop

Twin Cities police ask for help finding missing 16-year-old

Police say all her family and friends have been contacted, and none of them know where she is.

mpd suspect 12.3.21 - 1 - CROP

MPD releases photos of shooting suspect, asks for public's help

The man is wanted in connection with a fatal shooting that happened Wednesday evening.

redmons popcorn colbert 2

Support grows for Redmon's Popcorn after shop's sudden closure

The county also commented on the situation, saying it hopes to help owner Zack Redmon.

prior lake high school

Prior Lake HS investigating another 'racist' video involving student

The principal said the social media video was reported to them this week.

Screen Shot 2021-12-03 at 3.08.27 PM

Walz: Minnesota has secured 1 million rapid, at-home COVID tests for kids

It comes as the delta variant continues to surge in Minnesota, and the omicron variant might follow.

boundary waters

Forest Service limiting permits to BWCAW due to damage, overcrowding

Visitors have been cutting down trees and have been forced to compete for campsites.

police lights

Lockdown update: Armed man threatened to go to Kimball High School

A high school and elementary school near St. Cloud went into lockdown as a precaution.

chaska sewer

People in Chaska are flushing the wrong crap down the toilet

Water and sewer crews in Chaska have had to clean the same pump four times in the past seven days.


Ice crash Minnetonka

Vehicle breaks through ice on Lake Minnetonka, authorities urge caution

Authorities are urging people to repeatedly measure ice as they venture out on lakes

Thin ice

Hennepin sheriff issues thin ice warning amid warmer temps

This comes after two siblings fell through ice in Maple Grove.

Neighbors die in ice fishing accident on central MN lake

The two men went ice fishing together on Sunday.

Vehicle pulling a fish house goes through ice on MN lake

Another reminder that ice this time of year varies over short distances.

Cross-country skier falls through thin ice on Roseville lake

It happened on Lake McCarrons in the Twin Cities suburb.

Authorities urge caution on ice ahead of Hockey Day Minnesota

The ice thickness of Lake Bemidji isn't exactly ideal this season.

4 thin ice incidents in 3 hours reported near Willmar

Four lakes, four separate cases of vehicles and ice houses falling through.