Though this year has been a late winter, we're nearing ice out on the Whitefish Chain. And as the ice recedes, we'll all be eager to get out on the water and enjoy the liquid phase of year! As we do, it's important to remember cold water safety measures.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources reports that the median ice out date for Whitefish Lake is April 23. The earliest ice out on record was April 11, set just last year in 2017. The latest ice out on record is May 14, recorded in 2013. Will we beat the record this year? Time will tell!
The DNR keeps an interactive map that you can watch as citizen scientists report ice-out dates annually. The map is a fascinating tool to look back on previous years and see info on when the latest and earliest ice out dates occurred for lakes all across the state. The definition of ice out is different on different lakes, and may reflect a 1oo percent ice-free surface, a 90 percent ice-free surface, or the ability to travel from point A to point B. Whatever the criteria, the same criteria is used for a lake year after year.
Before the ice goes out, remember that ice becomes weak as it begins to soften. Ice is never 100 percent safe to begin with, so keep this in mind if you choose to venture out on late ice. Always remember ice safety guidelines.
Once the ice is out, remember that even on very warm spring and early summer days the water can still be very, very cold. According to the DNR, wearing a life jacket is the single greatest measure you can take to ensure your safety and survival should you end up in the water while out boating in the early season. Reduce your speed on rough water and don't overload your boat to prevent capsizing. Let family and/or friends know your plan for the day and when to expect you back. Carry a whistle or horn and a throwable life preserver. Read more about cold water safety in the PDF pamphlet from the DNR.
We want everyone to have a blast this spring and summer on the Whitefish Chain, and being safe is the best way to ensure you have a great time!