Iowa DNR Says Ice May Be Safe, But Urges Caution

Dec 23, 2016

The below-normal temperatures across Iowa the last week or so have done a good job freezing many of the state’s smaller lakes and ponds.

Iowa DNR Fisheries Chief Joe Larscheid says that means the ice should be thick enough for activities like skating or fishing, especially in the northern part of the state.

“We’ve got a good solid five to ten inches across Iowa, the more north you go, the better the ice. Up north I don’t see any problems,” he says.  “If ice just recently formed in southern Iowa, that would be the places to be careful of."

Larscheid says the DNR recommends a minimum of four inches of ice for people to walk on and at least five inches for snowmobiles and ATVs.

He says it would take significant temperature changes to undo last weekend’s arctic blast.

“Once it’s formed and forms over shallow water bodies it takes a lot of really warm days to hurt that ice,” he says.  “Even in the next few days when we’re in the 40s we’re still cold at night, we’re probably still overall going to make ice for the next few days.”

Larscheid advises that all activities on ice are safer with friends in case of an emergency. He says if you do set out alone, make sure to tell someone where you’re going.

Safety Tips on the Ice (Iowa DNR)

·         There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

·         New ice is usually stronger than old ice.

·         Ice fishing is a social activity, don’t go out alone. If the worst should happen, someone would be there to call for help or to rescue.

·         Check ice thickness as you go out - there could be pockets of thin ice or places where ice recently formed.

·         Avoid off-colored snow or ice. It is usually a sign of weakness.

·         The insulating effect of snow slows down the freezing process.