These warm temps are great – unless you want to drive on the ice

Several cars fell through the ice over the weekend.
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The ice just isn't safe.

After several days of above-average temperatures, officials across the state are warning of unsafe ice conditions after several vehicles fell through the ice.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office said Sunday ice conditions are deteriorating quickly on Lake Minnetonka, noting at least two vehicles broke through the ice over the weekend (no injuries were reported).

"It's very important to check ice depths before venturing out on the ice, and vehicle operators should be extra vigilant," the sheriff's office said on Facebook.

Ice thickness guidelines say the ice should be at least 8-12 inches thick to hold a car or small pickup, and even thicker if you're driving a larger vehicle. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suggests checking with your local bait shop so you're aware of any thin ice areas before going out on a frozen lake, adding ice is never 100 percent safe.

So far this year six vehicles, snowmobiles and ATVs have gone through the ice in Hennepin County alone, WCCO reports. Last year, five vehicles fell into lakes in Hennepin County, the news station says.

The ice isn't just unsafe in Hennepin County. On Sunday, an SUV driven by a 78-year-old man broke through the ice on Long Lake in Kandiyohi County, a news release says. He got out and wasn't injured.

Last year, there were zero ice-related fatalities in Minnesota, the DNR's website shows. For tips on what to do if your vehicle falls through the ice, click here.

Warm weather means vehicle restrictions

Temperatures were in the 40s over the weekend for much of southern Minnesota, and these sunny and warm temperatures are expected to continue through the weekend, the National Weather Service says.

These above-average temperatures have officials placing vehicle restrictions on at least one lake in the coming weeks. Cass County Sheriff Tom Burch is restricting vehicle traffic for Leech Lake's Walker Bay for the upcoming EelPout Festival that's schedule for Feb. 23-26.

Burch says unseasonably warm temperatures in the forecast have "created a concern for public safety" due to the number of vehicles and ice houses expected on the bay during the festival.

No motorized vehicles (except snowmobiles and Class 1 and 2 ATVs) will be allowed on the ice between noon on Feb. 24 and 10 a.m. on Feb. 26. Here's a map of the restricted areas.

The McLeod County Sheriff's Office is also encouraging vehicles to stay off Lake Marion.

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