Wow, that sure went fast! February’s unusually warm weather* (MN’s February temperatures were running 10.3 degrees warmer than average this winter) started melting the lake ice early this year. February was the 18th straight month that was warmer than average in the Twin Cities; an 18-month string of above average monthly temperatures has never happened here in 143 years of record keeping (for more see Huttner’s article**).
The one-two punch of warm February weather, followed by a couple of crazy windy days chased the ice right out town. This year, Haas, Spring, Pike and Fish were declared ice-out on March 7th. Lower and Upper Prior were close behind, reaching ice-out only a day later on March 8. However, Buck Lake didn’t have any signs of open water on March 8th, which is especially strange because the smaller lakes normally melt first.
Lakes are considered “ice-out” when more than 90% of the lake is ice-free. While we do not have many years of lake ice-out dates for many of the District’s lakes, we do have 45 of the last 60 years of ice-out dates for Upper Prior Lake.
This year marked the earliest recorded ice-out dates for all of the above lakes, including Upper Prior. This year’s ice-out date on Prior Lake is 6 days earlier than the previous recorded record in 1987 and a week earlier than last year (the 2nd earliest ice-out on record). Historic lake ice dates can be always be found on our Lake Monitoring data page and can also be found here (note: there are more lakes on the second page). For more lake information, visit the individual lake pages under the Waterbodies tab on our website.
*More on February’s weather here: http://www.mprnews.org/story/2017/03/08/study-climate-change-goosed-odds-of-freakishly-hot-february
**Huttner, Paul. “Unprecedented Climate Event Unfolding.” http://blogs.mprnews.org/updraft/2017/03/warm-front-ahead-60s-again-by-sunday/View Full Article