It’s Official – ICE ON for Lake Mendota!
Ice on date beats median freeze date by five days
Despite warm weather in Madison over the weekend, cool nights, light winds, and cold water helped Lake Mendota officially freeze on Saturday, December 15th. Lake Mendota, the largest lake in the Yahara Watershed, froze eight days after the smallest lake in the watershed, Lake Wingra, which officially froze on December 7th. Lake Monona officially froze on December 11th.
The Wisconsin State Climatology Office requires ice to hold for a period of 24 hours before a lake can officially be declared frozen over. After ice took shape this weekend, staff waited to see whether it would hold out through the warm daytime temperatures. The December 15th freeze date is 12 days ahead of last year’s December 27th freeze date, and a surprising five days ahead of the December 20th median freeze date. The latest freeze date for Lake Mendota was January 30th – which happened in the winter of 1932.
The Wisconsin State Climatology Office makes the official determination as to whether the lake is frozen. The climatologists use the same guidelines they have used for decades to determine whether the lakes are iced over. This allows for a continuity in data collection. Read more: Determining ice cover on Madison’s lakes.
We have a Winner!
Clean Lakes Alliance once again held its annual Mendota Freeze Contest, asking people to take a guess as to when the lake would officially freeze. Amy Lemley of Thompson, Georgia submitted the first correct guess and will receive a $1,000 Lands’ End gift card as a grand prize. Lemley said she entered the Clean Lakes Alliance contest after hearing about it from her daughter-in-law, who lives in the Madison area.
Though the lakes look solid, don’t be misled – ice may still be thin. The Wisconsin DNR recommends waiting for three inches of ice before venturing out, and always walking with a friend. If you plan on ice fishing with friends and gear, at least four inches of ice is best.
Get Ready for Frozen Assets!
Now that ice has formed on Lake Mendota, Clean Lakes Alliance is busy making sure Frozen Assets, the free, family friendly festival held on February 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, at The Edgewater will be a success. Athletes looking for winter fun at Frozen Assets can compete in the Fat Bike Race – held on the night of February 1st, or run a 5k on the morning of February 2nd. Both races start and finish at The Edgewater and will be held entirely on the frozen lake!