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Chris Denardo and Jave Vavrika install the J&K Marine dock at the north end of a shimmering Little Detroit Lake Tuesday morning.

'09 ice-off lags by a few days

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Warm temperatures and a stiff wind took the ice off Detroit Lake, Lake Sallie and most other area lakes on Thursday and Friday, a few days later than average.

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"It seems like a lot of ice left the lakes on April 23-24," said Assistant State Climatologist Peter Boulay. "It was warm and very windy, with a strong overnight wind. Once it gets hold of the edge of the ice, it will push it."

The average ice-out dates for some of the area lakes include April 11 for Big Cormorant (which still had partial cover Tuesday, Boulay said), April 20 for Detroit Lake, April 18 for Lake Sallie and April 29 for Lake of the Woods.

Many residents of these Minnesota lakes have experienced both some of the earliest and latest recorded ice-out dates in the past 15 years.

Back in 1996, most of these lakes did not become free of ice until early to mid-May. Yet four years later, these same lakes became ice-free either in late March or very early April.

The remaining lakes in Becker and Otter Tail counties, even with the cooler temperatures projected for the next few days, have since opened up or will shortly.

Lake of the Woods, on the other hand, will probably not open up until early May, according to Daryl Ritchison of WDAY.

"There's a huge amount of interest in ice-out," Boulay said. "People want to know when they can get their docks out. Last year there was a huge amount of interest about late ice and the fishing opener."

For ice-out records and other information on selected Minnesota lakes online (they go back more than 100 years for Detroit Lake), go to:

http://climate.umn.edu/

and click on Ice Out 2009.

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