Northern lakes break ice-out recordsWhile lake ice has been melting faster than usual across all of Minnesota, the northern half of the state is seeing especially early ice out, smashing old records thanks to record warmth in March that’s continued so far in April.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
Shagawa Lake near Ely officially lost its ice on Saturday, besting the previous record by 11 days and highlighting one of the earliest ice-out seasons in northern Minnesota recorded history.
Shagawa’s previous record ice out was April 14, set in 1998, and on average the lake doesn’t shed its last ice until April 27. Ice out has happened as late as May 16 on Shagawa.
While lake ice has been melting faster than usual across all of Minnesota, the northern half of the state is seeing especially early ice out, smashing old records thanks to record warmth in March that’s continued so far in April.
Some other closely watched lakes — including Island near Duluth, Leech and Winnibigoshish — could lose their ice Tuesday and tie or beat all-time record dates, the State Climatology Office reported.
“Vermilion is getting closer and might beat the record of April 10. Island Lake near Duluth is very close as well,” said Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist. “Shagawa and Fall essentially went out on the same days as lakes in southern and western Minnesota, and that’s really unusual.”
Fall Lake near Ely lost its ice on April 2, seven days before the previous record of April 10 set in 1945.
Even big Ontario border lakes like Lake of the Woods, Rainy and Gunflint — generally the last in the state to shed ice — are showing signs of weeks-early ice out this year, with large areas of ice moving away from shore. Most lakes have between 50 and 80 years of accurate data on ice-out dates; some have more than 100 years of records to compare.
The early ice out this year means no concerns for anglers who have in some years worried about lake ice even for the May walleye fishing opener.
“With open water for six weeks or more this year, the fish may be behaving more like June when the opener comes around,” said Tim Goeman, regional fisheries manager for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
DNR crews already are taking eggs from spawning fish out of Lake Vermilion, the second earliest that’s ever happened. Fish spawn based on a combination of water temperature and daylight hours, and the exact mix for each species still isn’t exactly clear, Goeman said.
“It’s not out of the universe. We have had one earlier date … but spawning this year is very early, way ahead of usual,” Goeman said.