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Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol offers tips on ice and snow safety

"We're getting a decent amount of ice, but on top of the ice we're getting upwards of 5 to 6 inches of slush," said Deputy Sheriff Mathias Weinzierl.

SPRING PARK, Minn. — As people flock to lakes and rivers across the state, Deputy Sheriff Mathias Weinzierl with Hennepin County Sheriff's Office Water Patrol, issued a warning to those heading out on the water for winter fun.

"We're getting a decent amount of ice, but on top of the ice we're getting upwards of 5 to 6 inches of slush," he said.

He says normally in January and February, they expect to see roughly 15 inches of ice but this year, it's much less.

"We're seeing upwards of a foot in most places, but we are still finding patches where it is much different." added Weinzierl.

Recent snow storms dropped heavy, wet snow across the state - with the slushy conditions impacting travel on ice. In Cass County, officials say a 19-year-old plow driver from Buffalo escaped without injury Friday night after his pickup fell through the ice on Leech Lake.

And here on Lake Minnetonka, Weinzierl says, "we have had at least one snow mobile that I know of go through the ice also in a channel."

But it's not the only winter danger on Weinzierl's radar. "Specifically on Lake Minnetonka, we have had several snow mobile accidents, they have happened going through channels specifically, people hitting ice ridges, there are ice ridges all throughout the lake."

In Chisago County, the sheriff's office says a snowmobile rider was seriously injured after striking a ditch off the side of the trail. There have also been several fatal snowmobile accidents in recent days - including the death of a Twin Cities woman Saturday afternoon in St. Louis County.

But while officials are warning people of the dangers on and off the ice -
They're giving advice to those venturing out on the water.

"I suggest having some type of pole on you so you can strike the ice and hear how the ice sounds and be doing that as you walk," said Weinzierl.

For a full list of ice safety tips or how to get to safety if you happen to fall through thin ice, visit the link here.


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