Minnesota lake ice out projections for 2014 - KMSP-TV

ICE OUT 2014: Waiting for the thaw on Minnesota lakes

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Meteorologist Cody Matz Meteorologist Cody Matz

The long, cold winter has Minnesotans yearning for signs of spring… and eventually summer lake season. An important spring benchmark is lake ice out when the lakes are finally free of the cold harsh signs of winter, and can start to significantly warm. As of the first week of April, there were no significant bodies of water in Minnesota without ice cover.

Historical data indicate that spring lake ice dates are extremely variable from year to year, ranging by as much as six to eight weeks between the earliest recorded ice out date and the latest (see maps below). Accurate long-term projections of lake ice out dates are currently beyond the reach of science. Lake ice melt is driven by a number of factors such as ice condition, snow cover, temperature, precipitation, and wind. The related weather elements cannot be accurately forecasted beyond 5 to 7 days. Therefore, we must use the past for a look into the future.

A first guess at projected ice out dates is the historical median date. The median ice out date for a given lake is the date where one half of the lake's historical ice out dates were earlier, and one half of the historical ice out dates were later (the "50/50" date).

Minnesota's "50/50" dates are in late-March/early-April for the southern three tiers of counties, in the second week of April for the metropolitan area, the third week of April in the Brainerd and Detroit Lakes areas, the final week of April in the Bemidji and Grand Rapids areas, and early May for lakes near the International border.

Given present ice conditions and the fact that we have already passed some of our median ice out dates, it is unlikely that ANY lake ice out dates will be earlier than what is considered average. However, the question of how long ice out will be delayed beyond the historical median dates is unfortunately impossible to answer. But take into consideration trends… if many of the lakes in far southern Minnesota end up running about 2 or 3 weeks behind normal, then most likely, the rest of the state will follow that general rule. Of course, every lake will be a little different.

Here are the earliest and latest ice out days statewide. We are only about 2 weeks from eclipsing some of these records in southern and central Minnesota so that ice will need to continue melting fast, or it could be one icy April.

The data in this article is provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources...

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