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Cold, snow delay thaw dates on area lakes

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501

Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Detroit Lakes got the cold shoulder from spring in 1950.

That year, ice went off Big Detroit Lake on May 17.

The thaw, the latest in 113 years of record keeping, was almost a month past the average ice-out date of April 20.

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This spring, Minnesota again is in no rush to thaw out, with lake ice-outs running seven to 10 days later than average.

Could icy conditions threaten the May 10 fishing opener?

"That would be a stretch. We would have to have quite a cold second half of April and maybe a few more snowstorms," said Pete Boulay, assistant state climatologist.

Still, lakeshore owners may have to wait two to three more weeks before putting docks in, said Bob Merritt, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources hydrologist.

Many lakes in west central Minnesota still have two feet of solid ice atop them, according to Merritt, who said conditions could change quickly.

"If we had a couple days of 45-degree rain, that would really speed the melting process," said Merritt.

Ice-out dates can vary greatly from year to year, said Boulay.

Last year, ice fled Big Cormorant Lake in Becker County on April 25. The year before, it was April 13.

A cold March and recent snowfalls are factors in the ice sticking around this spring, said Merritt.

"A lot of the energy has gone into melting the snow on the ground.

"Those last two shots of snow, that covered us with up to 12 inches each time, really slowed the (melting) process," he added.

Most of Minnesota needn't worry about ice marring the fishing opener, said Merritt, but he added it's not unheard of for ice to remain on lakes in the northeast corner of the state well into May.

"That is one of the arguments against having an earlier (fishing) opener than we have now," he said. "We're already on the edge with those northeastern lakes."

Truth be told, fishing is never as good on the opener as it is a few weeks later, when lakes have warmed a bit, said Merritt.

Anyone fishing the opener might want to pick a small lake, as they heat up faster than big ones, said Merritt, who has plans to be on the water May 10.

But he won't divulge his fishing hole.

"That's a secret," he said, allowing only that it will be on "a little lake in Becker County."

Boulay said many might not agree with him, but he enjoyed this past winter and the cold and snowy conditions that have left ice lingering longer.

"Even in a global warming scenario, we will still have real winter once in a while," said Boulay.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

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