Ice-out expected to be declared on Lake Minnetonka by next week

Excelsior Bay. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer)
Excelsior Bay. (Sun Sailor staff photo by Paige Kieffer)

Officials are waiting to declare ice-out on Lake Minnetonka, and are expecting an open lake by as early as next week.

The Freshwater Society and Hennepin County Sheriff’s Water Patrol will jointly declare ice-out on the lake. The decision to declare ice-out will be made when the water patrol boat can navigate through all of Lake Minnetonka’s bays and channels without impediment from floating ice.

The earliest recorded ice-out was March 11, 1878. It is expected that 2017 will be the second earliest ice-out in recorded history.

As of the morning of March 7, Steve Woods, the Freshwater Society’s executive director, said in an email, “The wind is doing a pretty good job of breaking the ice sheet up and a number of the smaller western bays and lakes are showing open water. The forecast shows temperatures going below freezing into the middle of next week — we’re guessing ice out will happen within 7–10 days … The Main Lake has both whitecaps and white ice (that has yet to turn dark).”

The society note said that rain, wind and cloud cover all influence the rate at which the ice sheet melts, there by affecting their estimation ice-out time.

On March 9, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol reported that:
-3/4 of Wayzata Bay is still iced over.
-3/4 of Tanager Lake is iced over.
-Forest Lake channel north of the bridge is not passable.
-1/2 of the east portion of Crystal Bay is iced over.
-Lafayette Bay has a large portion still iced over.
-Lower Lake South from Greenwood to Big Island is still iced over.

Once the ice has receded from shore and a few more of the channels open, the water patrol will make several trips a day with the Freshwater Society to see where remnant ice still prevents access to bays or channels.

The area of Lake Minnetonka is approximately 14,500 acres with 37 numbered bays.

The society said it’s not uncommon for many of the bays to have open water while channels or other bays are still substantially iced over.

Contact Paige Kieffer at [email protected]