Weather Forecast


Ice-out is one of latest on record in DL

It’s not too often that the Minnesota walleye fishing opener comes before the official “ice-out” date on Big Detroit Lake, but this year, that’s just what happened.

“Sunday, May 12 is the 2013 Detroit Lake ice-out  date,” said Richard Hecock of the Pelican River Watershed District.

“That is the day when more than 90 percent of the lake was ice-free; only windblown ice remained, accumulated by strong northwest winds, and trapped along the southeast shoreline between the bluff and the DNR wetland near the intersection of East and South Shore drives.

“That accumulated ice disappeared the next morning,” he added.

Hecock has been tracking local ice-in and ice-out data for the PRWD for several years.

Those final vestiges of ice are probably the reason why the Morning Coffee Club at Detroit Lakes’ Mainstreet Café declared its official “ice-out on Big Detroit” at 9:28 a.m. Monday, May 13.

“Carl Fingalson was the winner of this year’s ice-out contest,” said coffee club member Dave Knutson, who assisted Jim Langemo in judging the annual contest. (In the past, the contest had been run by Dick Carr, who passed away this winter.)

“The latest Detroit Lake ice-out in 121 years of records is May 17, 1950,” Hecock said. “This year’s date is tied for second place with May 12, 1893 for late ice-out honors.”

Hecock said Big Detroit has experienced May ice-outs about once in every eight years, with the last such occurrence happening on May 1, 2008.

“Before that, we would have to go back to May 5, 1996, but in the 1970s there were five May ice-outs,” Hecock said.

Complete ice in/ice out data for Detroit Lakes is available at the Pelican River Watershed District’s website, (click on “Lake Reports” in the menu on the right side of the page).

Ice out data for Detroit and other Becker County lakes, including Cormorant and Sallie, are available at the University of Minnesota’s website,

The ice also officially came off three other local lakes on Saturday — Long, Big Floyd and Sallie, Hecock said.

All told, Detroit Lake was covered in ice for a total of 168 days this winter, since Nov. 24.

“The average ice cover duration is 151 days, or 17 days less than this winter,” said Hecock. “But in the last 20 years the average duration of the ice-cover on Detroit has been 137 days — 31 less than this year.”

Since the PRWD began recording ice-in and ice-out dates in 1893, only 12 years have seen longer ice coverage than this one, Hecock noted.

“Twice, in 1919-20 and 1935-36, ice was on Detroit Lake for 184 days — more than half a year,” he added.

In other words, this winter wasn’t the longest on record, but it does come pretty close.

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454