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For 2nd year in a row, warm weather cancels annual ice fishing derby

The unseasonably warm January has claimed another victim.
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Just when you want Minnesota to be Minnesota, the weather warms up and throws a wrench into plans.

The recent warm spell has forced the cancellation of the Maple Lake Ice Fishing Derby on Feb. 4, with organizers saying that ice on the lake has deteriorated to unsafe levels.

It's the second year in a row the popular winter event has been cancelled. It's been running for more than four decades and regularly attracts 7,500 competitors to the lake.

"Safety for participants was our primary concern," Derby chairman Greg Thomes said in an announcement on the event's website. "We need to be at 18 inches of ice going into this contest. We are currently 14-16 inches and the existing sheet of ice has deteriorated."

Next year's derby is slated for Feb. 3, with Thomes saying they "trust Mother Nature will be more kind to us in future years."

Other festivities associated with the derby, including the Arctic Plunge, the Ice Augur Drilling Contest, and the Dance in the Tent, have also been canceled.

It comes after a January that has been exceptionally warm by Minnesota standards, with the National Weather Service saying that the average monthly temperature through Jan. 26 is 4 degrees above normal – and 4.3 degrees above normal in the Twin Cities. Those warm temps are also why it's been so darn gloomy this week.

Last weekend, the North America Pond Hockey Championships had to be moved from Lake Minnetonka to nearby parking lots because of melting lake ice.

And it's unlikely to get much cooler through the end of the month, with the NWS forecasting temps in the high 20s or low 30s over the weekend and early next week.

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