Mendota Freeze Contest
“Winter” descended quickly on Madison in 2019, with colder than normal temperatures recorded in October and November. Higher than average amounts of snow were also reported each month. However, a mild December and early January 2020 meant a late freeze date that winter season.
Lake Mendota officially froze on January 12th, 2020, as declared by the Wisconsin State Climatology Office. Lake Mendota, the largest lake in the Yahara Watershed, froze just 18 days shy of January 30th, which is the latest date that ice-on has every been declared (1/30/1032).
The January 12th freeze date marks the conclusion of Clean Lakes Alliance’s eighth annual Mendota Freeze Contest. Weather watchers and ice experts of all ages were asked to guess the official ice-on date for Lake Mendota. The Mendota Freeze Contest calls attention to the year-round importance of our lakes on our local quality of life.
We have a winner!
Of the more than 1600 people to enter the contest, over 20 guessed Lake Mendota would freeze on January 12th. Randomly selected from those to guess the correct date was Jennifer Borgstrom of Madison. She received a $1,000 Lands’ End gift card as a grand prize. Borgstrom said she would likely use her winnings to buy Lands’ End gear to use on a trip to Alaska.
When will Lake Mendota freeze?
- For insight into the Wisconsin State Climatology Office, which declares the lakes frozen each year, read more about lake ice records from Wisconsin State Climatology Office
- 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. This allows for a continuity in data collection. Read more: Determining ice cover on Madison’s lakes.
- 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.
- To test your knowledge of our lakes in the winter, take the frozen lakes quiz.
- Read more about the 2019-2020 season freeze declaration.
A look back at the 2018-2019 season
Cool nights, light winds, and cold water helped Lake Mendota officially freeze on Saturday, December 15th, 2018. 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, 2018. Lake Monona officially froze on December 11th, 2018.
The Wisconsin State Climatology Office officially declared Lake Mendota open again on December 21st, 2018. Lake Mendota has had double freeze dates only six other times since data collection first began in the winter of 1852-53. Other winters with two freeze dates are: 1936-37, 1968-69, 1977-78, 1978-79, 1984-85, and 2001-02.
Only one guess per individual. Multiple entries will be automatically disqualified. Official rules and regulations can be found here.