Mendota Freeze Contest

When will Lake Mendota freeze?

On December 1st, Clean Lakes Alliance kicked off its 11th annual Mendota Freeze Contest. Calling on weather watchers and ice experts of all ages, the contest asks people to guess the official ice-on date for Lake Mendota. 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.

Lake Mendota frozen 7Jan2022
A frozen Lake Mendota on the morning of January 7, 2022. Photo taken from the Clean Lakes Alliance offices on Lake Mendota, which are donated in kind by Foley and Lardner, LLP.

Freeze statistics for Lake Mendota

Mendota Freeze Facts
Mendota Freeze Statistics

A look back at the 2022-23 season

For the 11th year in a row, Clean Lakes Alliance held its annual Mendota Freeze Contest, asking people to make a guess as to when the lake would officially freeze. 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.

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

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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