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U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
St. Paul District
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332 Minnesota St., Suite E1500
St. Paul, MN 55101

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Annual Lake Pepin ice measurements to begin next week

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Feb. 1, 2021
Survey team collects ice thickness on an air boat

A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, survey team was on Lake Pepin, near Red Wing, Minnesota, Feb. 12, 2020 collecting its annual ice measurements. The team measures the ice thickness at various points in the lake and provides the information to the navigation industry to help them determine when it's safe to break through the ice and begin the shipping season.

ST. PAUL, Minn. – It’s a sign that spring is near, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will start its annual Lake Pepin ice measurements Feb. 9.

Lake Pepin is a naturally occurring lake on the Mississippi River on the border between Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Corps takes ice measurements on Lake Pepin annually to forecast the navigational outlook. Lake Pepin ice thickness is measured, because it’s the widest, naturally occurring part of the Mississippi River. The lake’s ice is the last major barrier for vessels reaching the head of the navigation channel in St. Paul, Minnesota.

A Corps survey crew uses an airboat and a global positioning system to collect the data. The information will be used by the navigation industry to predict when it’s safe to break through the ice and begin the 2021 navigation season.

The Motor Vessel R. Clayton McWhorter was the first tow to pass through Lake Pepin last year and reach St. Paul, Minnesota, arriving April 6, 2020. Historically the average date in which navigation is open occurs during the third week of March.

Ice measurements are typically completed weekly until the first tow arrives. Ice measurements results are posted on the St. Paul District website at:

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Public Affairs

Release no. 21-009