A Christmas cold snap and low wind helped Lake Mendota officially freeze on Wednesday, December 27. Lake Mendota is the largest lake in the Yahara Watershed. The lake froze 17 days after the smallest lake in the watershed, Lake Wingra, which officially froze on December 10.
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 on December 26, staff waited to see whether it would hold out through the night. The December 27 freeze date is five days ahead of last winter’s January 1 freeze date, and only seven days later than the December 20 median freeze date. The latest freeze date for Lake Mendota was January 30 – which happened in the winter of 1932.
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. Dawn Hearn of Madison submitted the first correct guess. She will receive a $1,000 Lands’ End gift card as a grand prize. Runner up Jon Voichick of Madison was the second person to correctly guess December 27. He will receive an overnight stay at the Wilderness Resort in the Wisconsin Dells.
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.
Be a Part of History
Now that there is ice on Lake Mendota, Clean Lakes Alliance is busy making sure Frozen Assets, the free, family friendly festival held on February 2, 3, and 4 at The Edgewater, will be a success. NEW this year – a 5K run/walk held entirely on Lake Mendota. Runners or walkers will compete in the ONLY 5K run/walk in the U.S. held entirely on a frozen lake!
Read more about the Mendota Freeze Contest.