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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

Phone: (651) 290-5807
Fax: (651) 290-5752 


Corps of Engineers urges caution as lakes and rivers freeze

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District
Published Dec. 18, 2023
Updated: Dec. 18, 2023

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, urges extreme caution while recreating near lakes and rivers this winter season.

Current ice conditions are poor at best with minimal ice on most lakes and rivers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota. Continued fluctuations of temperatures above and below freezing are not helpful in making good, clear ice.

Some things to keep in mind on the ice:

  • Never go out on an ice cover alone, and never go out on the ice if there is any question of its safety.
  • Avoid ice near open water.
  • Talk to someone familiar with the lake you are going to visit about ice conditions.
  • Take a set of ice picks or nails with to help you get back on the ice in the event you fall in.
  • Let someone know where you are going and when you will be back.
  • Remember that standing or parking in a group will require more ice than what is recommended in the guidelines.
  • Ice conditions can change from day to day.

Knowing that ice is never completely safe, there are some guidelines on what loads good clear ice can hold:

  • 4 inches can hold a person
  • 5 inches can hold a snowmobile
  • 10-12 inches can hold a small car
  • 12-18 inches can hold a light truck

Knowing how to work and play safely on the frozen surface of a river or lake is part of winter, but to do so safely can be a matter of life or death. For more information, see:


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Public Affairs

Release no. 23-093