Cold snap helps Lake Mendota freeze

View of Lake Mendota looking toward Picnic Point on December 25, 2022

Frigid air temperatures, combined with cold water and low winds, helped Lake Mendota officially freeze on December 25th, 2022. The declaration came from the Wisconsin State Climatology Office. Lake Mendota, the largest lake in the Yahara Watershed, froze five days after December 20th. December 20th is the median ice-on date for the largest lake in the Yahara River Watershed. The Christmas Day freeze date is over a month shy of January 30th – which is the latest date that ice-on has ever been declared (1/30/1932).

The ice must hold for 24 hours before the Wisconsin State Climatology Office can declare the lake frozen. The December 25th freeze date is almost two weeks earlier than last year’s freeze date of January 7th. For statistics about determining the freeze date and the Madison ice record, see History of freezing and thawing of Lake Mendota and Madison lakes ice summary.

View of Lake Mendota on December 25, 2022
View of Lake Mendota from Observatory Hill on December 25, 2022

We Have a Winner!

For the 11th year in a row, Clean Lakes Alliance held its annual Mendota Freeze Contest. The contest asks people to make a guess as to when the lake would officially freeze. Of the nearly 1,600 people to enter the contest, 33 people guessed Lake Mendota would freeze on December 25th. Our winner, Laura Graham of Madison, was randomly selected from those who guessed the correct date. Graham will receive a $1,000 gift card courtesy of Lands’ End as the grand prize.

Stay Safe!

Though the lakes look solid, don’t be misled. Ice may still be thin. The Wisconsin DNR recommends waiting for at least four inches of ice to develop before heading out to ice fish on our lakes. If you are venturing out on the lake, always let someone know where you are going or take a friend with you! With warmer temperatures forecasted for this week, the ice conditions can change rapidly.

View of Lake Mendota looking toward Picnic Point on December 25, 2022
View of Lake Mendota from Observatory HiIl looking toward Picnic Point on December 25, 2022

Race (or walk) on a Frozen Lake

Registration for Clean Lakes Alliance’s popular Frozen Assets 5K Run/Walk is now open. Participants can choose between a timed 5K race or an untimed 5K walk. All participants receive a t-shirt and kids 10 and under can participate for free with a registered adult. The Frozen Assets 5K starts and ends at The Edgewater on Lake Mendota. It is the only race in North America held entirely on frozen lake!

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