Waiting on Thin Ice

The suspense is killing me. A week ago my front yard was one gigantic skating rink, the ice smooth as glass. It’s so tempting, but if I step onto the ice before it’s ready, I will be in for the swim of my life.

This is what the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources web page advises:

When is ice safe?

There really is no sure answer. You can’t judge the strength of ice just by its appearance, age, thickness, temperature, or whether or not the ice is covered with snow. Strength is based on all these factors — plus the depth of water under the ice, size of the water body, water chemistry and currents, the distribution of the load on the ice, and local climatic conditions.

There is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice.

Thanks for clearing up the ambiguities, Mr. DNR. This morning the temperature was -17, plenty cold for “spontaneous nucleation,” and all the other chemical reactions scientists say have to take place for lake ice to properly form. It looks solid. And there’s even a thin layer of snow, making the lake almost perfect for skate skiing. But what day do I finally take that leap of faith, click into my skis, and start gliding? Your guess is as good as mine.


7 Responses to “Waiting on Thin Ice”

  1. 1 Mark Lindner December 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm


    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems that you travel all over the world for various assignments. Perhaps this is the time to be in Guatemala, or Panama or Australia or ,,,? Then, you don’t have to worry about if the ice is safe enough. 🙂

  2. 3 Mark Lindner December 7, 2011 at 5:31 pm

    I don’t know if it is something that happens as you get older, or if it is just me; but, I used to cross-country ski a lot. I live just east of St Paul and there are some great areas to ski in over here (Afton State Park, Lake Elmo Park Reserve, and Sunfish Park in Lake Elmo, to name three), but cold just gets to me now and I find myself embracing indoor activities in the winter. Maybe that’s why I suggested warmer climates over wondering if the ice is safe.

    Keep up the good work. I enjoy reading your blog; just wish you had more posts…

  3. 5 Mark Lindner December 13, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    With this warm stretch of weather here in the cities, we now have no snow to ski on! I’m assuming you are up north somewhere, how is the snow cover where you are?

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