SPRING PARK — The ice is out on Lake Minnetonka, marking the official start to boating season.

Ice out was declared at 9:48 a.m. on Thursday, April 2, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office.

The declaration comes after the Sheriff’s Office and Freshwater Society board members were able to boat through all of the lake’s 37 bays and channels without being obstructed by ice.

The Freshwater Society said on April 2 that there is some ice remaining, but all the lake’s bays and channels are fully navigable.

“Obviously, this is an unusual start to boating season,” Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson said in a news release. “We know that not everyone who enjoys water recreation will be able to get out onto the lake due to the state’s stay-at-home order. However, we know that there will still be people getting out on the lakes as normal, and we’re encouraging everyone to keep basic water safety in mind.”

The state’s stay-at-home order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic does allow for boating activities, with some restrictions. Families or other cohabitating groups may be on a boat together even if the boat does not allow them to stay six feet apart. However, tying rafts or boats together would constitute a gathering under Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order, so it is not allowed.

AVERAGE ICE-OUT DATE

This year’s ice-out date comes 12 days earlier than the average date of April 14, Freshwater Society said.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resource’s website shows that the earliest ice-out date on Lake Minnetonka was March 11, 1878, and the latest ice-out date for the lake happened in 2018, on May 5.

Last year, ice out was declared at 1:46 p.m. on Saturday, April 20.

Melissa Turtinen is the community editor for Lakeshore Weekly News and Eden Prairie News. She's passionate about adding context to stories and informing people about what's going on in their community. She enjoys being outside, traveling and good beer.

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