Balmy December puts US Pond Hockey Championship on thin ice


An unusually warm December is putting an annual pond hockey tournament on thin ice.

The U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, which draws hundreds to Lake Nokomis every January, is closely monitoring the forecast over the next 10 days to determine if changes need to be made to this year's tournament, which runs Jan. 14-17, the organization posted on its Facebook page Thursday.

Last week, Lake Nokomis – and Lake Minnetonka, where the North American Pond Hockey Championship is held in January – had wide open water, MPR News reported. By Friday, Nokomis had a thin layer of ice at the shoreline, but it was only an inch thick, WCCO adds.

Ideally, ice on Lake Nokomis would be 10-plus inches thick for the event, WCCO says, but the tournament could go on if there's just 6-8 inches of ice, however that means spectators wouldn't be allowed on the ice, reports note.

The forecast isn't looking very promising. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center shows Minnesota as having above-average temperatures into January, which means tournament organizers may have to start working on an alternative plan.

U.S. Pond Hockey Championship organizers plan to know more next week on whether they'll need to use one of their contingency plans, which include pushing back the date of the tournament and holding the tournament at a different location, reports note, but there's no chance it would move indoors, organizers told WCCO.

The average ice-in date for Lake Nokomis is Dec. 1, with the latest ice-in date being Dec. 20, 2001, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources' website shows. (Typically, the ice-in date refers to when the entire lake is frozen over for the first time and the ice cover remains for the rest of winter, the DNR notes.)

And MPR meteorologist Paul Huttner says there's a 50-50 shot Lake Minnetonka's Excelsior Bay will be at least 18 inches thick for the North American Pond Hockey Tournament, which is held Jan. 21-24. Organizers of that tournament will meet Dec. 28 to decide more about the future of this year's event, MPR News says.

Lake Minnetonka's average ice-in date is Dec. 7, with the latest ice-in date being Jan. 2, 2001, the DNR's website shows.

Above-average temperatures recently have been hurting other businesses and events that rely on snow and cold weather in the winter, including the cancellation of the Sandstone Ice Festival.

Next Up

coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2

Minnesota confirms America's 1st case of Brazil P.1 COVID strain

The strain was found in a Twin Cities metro resident who recently traveled to Brazil.


Gov. Walz announces education plan aimed at eliminating disparities

The plan covers seven categories, including closing the racial education gap and improving opportunities in rural Minnesota

Tax forms

Charges: Otsego cleaning business underreported sales

An Otsego woman is accused of owing more than $20,500 in sales tax, penalties and interest.

Screen Shot 2020-04-17 at 2.58.26 PM

Walz gives vaccine providers 3-day, 7-day deadlines to use doses

Those that don't use their allocation will be given less in the future.


Border officers seize more than $550K in counterfeit designer goods

The shipments of fake goods were seized on Jan. 22.

Landfill plastic bags

4 Twin Cities landfills seek to expand capacity

This comes as the area's waste-to-energy facilities are operating at capacity.

Marcus Carr

3 of 10 finalists for NCAA's top point guard award have MN ties

Not a bad way to represent the State of... Basketball?

Justice, court

Minnesota grants unconditional pardon to grandmother facing deportation

Gov. Tim Walz says it's the first full pardon granted by the state in 35 years.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota changes vaccine appointment process, here's what to know

Walz also announced plans for a mass vaccination event at Xcel Energy Center.

covid-19, coronavirus

Here is Minnesota's COVID-19 update for Monday, Jan. 25

The latest figures from MDH have been released.

covid-19, vaccine

Minnesota health leaders say state's vaccine progress better than figures suggest

Minnesota is lagging behind national vaccination rates, but MDH leaders say this is because it's holding 2nd doses in reserve.