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DNR: Warning, ice is not strong enough for vehicles

by Scott Hanson

With recent reports of vehicles breaking through the ice from Douglas to Beltrami counties, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is cautioning everyone about driving on the ice.

“Ice is never 100 percent safe,” said Capt. Greg Salo, DNR enforcement manager. “Winter recreationists need to think twice before driving out on the ice because the ice in many places is still not strong enough to support vehicles.

“No fish is worth your life,” he added.

Last winter (November to April), six people died in Minnesota from breaking through the ice. All the deaths involved either a snowmobile or vehicle. 

If a vehicle breaks through the ice, the owner is responsible for removal and must report it to the county sheriff.  If the vehicle is not removed within 30 days, the owner is subject to fines.

The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should check with a local bait shop or resort – ask about ice conditions – and measure the ice.

The DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:

  • 4 inches for walking.
  • 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
  • 8-12 inches for a car.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

When the temperature rises above freezing for six of the last 24 hours, double the recommended minimum thickness. And remember, if it stays above freezing for 24 hours or more, stay off the ice – it is not safe.

For more information, visit www.dnr.state.mn.us/safety/ice/thickness.html.