Ice-out on Lake Minnetonka

Early ice-out called on Lake Minnetonka
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Ice out 2024
Deputy Jennifer Archuleta from the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol and Freshwater Development Manager Natalie Stange observed ice-out on Lake Minnetonka the evening of March 13, 2024.

Freshwater and the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office Water Patrol declared ice-out on Lake Minnetonka the evening of March 13, the second earliest date ever recorded for the Twin Cities’ largest lake. The earliest ice-out on record for the lake was March 11, 1878.

Many lakes across the state have experienced historic ice conditions during this usually warm winter fueled by El Niño conditions and climate change.

Ice-out is observed when a boat is able to safely navigate from any shore to any other shore, through any channel, and around any island without being stopped by hard ice. Accompanying the water patrol each year are staff or board members from Freshwater, whose founder Dick Gray developed a system for observing ice-out on the lake back in the 1960’s.

Ice-out records on Lake Minnetonka date back to 1855 and are a valuable method for revealing long-term trends. There is no one way to determine ice-out on lakes; methods vary from lake to lake, so consistency from year to year is what researchers and agencies such as the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources prefer to see. Ice-out records for lakes across the state are listed on the DNR website.

Historically, Lake Minnetonka ice-out has been determined by a number of methods — such as when a car placed on the ice fell through or when a boat could travel from Excelsior to Wayzata. Read a 2003 column by Dick Gray about the glacial origins of this iconic Minnesota lake.

Ice out history calendar