Jan 18, 2023 - Things to Do

Warming temperatures and melting ice push Minneapolis winter events back to shore

A large group of people gathered on a frozen lake.

The Art Shanty Projects will move from Lake Harriet to the beach this year. Photo: Max Haynes

Despite a cold and snowy start to winter, Minneapolis winter activities are on thin ice.

What's happening: The combination of heavy snowfall and warmer-than-average temperatures this month has put a damper on popular events scheduled to be held on frozen lakes.

What they're saying: Art Shanty organizers said last week that due to warming temperatures, clear ice on Lake Harriet is only 6 inches thick — 4 inches less than they need "to operate safely with crowds and structures."

  • Plus, an abundance of slush also makes it "impossible" to groom the trails on the lakes for Luminary Loppet, per the event's website.

Reality check: There's no surefire way to know if ice is safe, which also makes it difficult to determine if events should go on as planned.

  • Although 4 inches of clear ice is generally fine for foot traffic, the Minnesota DNR recommends at least 13 to 17 inches for heavy vehicles and more for structures.
  • As of Saturday, Lake Harriet's ice was 10 inches thick, but the ice thins close to shore. Lake Nokomis is around 12 to 14 inches, a Minneapolis Parks spokesperson told Axios.

What we're watching: The U.S. National Pond Hockey Championships, a 10-day event on Lake Nokomis devoted to showcasing the greatness of Minnesota's frozen lakes, is supposed to kick off on Friday.

  • USNPHC didn't respond to Axios' request for comment, but the Parks spokesperson said the event will likely move forward.

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