Mendota Freeze Contest

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.

2019 Mendota Freeze Statistics
Mendota Freeze Statistics

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.

Mendota Freeze

When will Lake Mendota freeze?

Lake Mendota Ice Panoramic
Lake Mendota with a thin layer of ice in the early fall of 2018, seen from James Madison Park in Madison

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.

Mendota Freeze 2

Contest Rules

Only one guess per individual. Multiple entries will be automatically disqualified. Official rules and regulations can be found here.

Mendota Freeze 3

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