In some areas, rain aids ice
Willmar, Minn. — When rain’s in the forecast, as a rule, it’s not usually in the best interest of lake ice. But if you have several inches of snow insulating just a couple inches of ice, that rain can prove helpful in at least thinning that blanket of snow.
That’s what occurred across a swath of central Minnesota that last week was still shoveling out from a Dec. 9 storm that dumped around a foot on much of the state. Just last weekend, it rained.
“That half-inch of rain didn’t hurt us; I think it helped us,” said Brad Foshaug, of Brad’s 71 Bait and Sports in Willmar, adding that the gentle showers on Saturday melted down the snowpack. Further good news for Foshaug: the cold weather forecast for this week.
He said the bigger lakes in the Willmar area – like Diamond, Eagle, Green, Nest, and Andrew – all had “pretty decent ice,” in the 4- to 6-inch range.
“The shallow prairie lakes should be shaping up now,” he added. Those were the ones affected most by the heavy snow. They had just a couple inches of ice when the storm arrived, and were left with slush and open water after it dumped the snow.
“Some still have bad spots,” Foshaug said.
But he believes low temperatures this week will take care of the problem in most areas.
“By the weekend, it’s gonna be crazy (with ice fishermen),” he said.
Ice was setting up nicely in other areas of the state, too, while in the far south, some conservation officers warned of inconsistency in ice thickness.
On Upper Red Lake, according to Todd Mortenson, of Mort’s Dock, ice anglers will still be using ATVs to access walleye-fishing hot spots, but more and more were pulling their wheel houses out via pickup and trailer. He said the 12 to 15 inches of ice that existed on many areas of Upper Red would grow thicker this week with 12- to 20-degree highs, and 0- to 10-degree lows forecast.
On Monday, DNR Enforcement Supervisor Chad Sherack, of the Brainerd area, said 4 to 5 inches of ice was the norm on many lakes, but that some open spots remained prior to the week’s cool-down.
Other conservation officers also reported improving ice that may or may not be safe yet for certain types of travel:
- CO Duke Broughten, of Longville, said ice conditions continued to remain unsafe for travel, and that recent snowfall had hidden weak areas of ice, and created slush on area lakes.
- CO Phil Seefeldt, of Moorhead, said most area lakes had 6 to 10 inches of ice.
- In the Virginia area, Matt Frericks said “ice conditions are good, with ice thickness ranging from 6 to 8 inches of clear ice.”
- Farther south, in Pine City, CO Eugene Wynn said rain last weekend served to knock down the snow layer on area lakes, improving conditions for ice formation.
- And in the Windom area, CO Jason Beckmann reported: “Some areas of ice are up to 5 inches thick, and just a couple inches a few yards away. Warmer-than-normal weather, snow, and rain made for unpredictable ice conditions.”