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Is it normal that Minnesota lakes are still open and not iced out?

Is it normal that many Minnesota lakes are still open and not iced-in?
Is it normal that many Minnesota lakes are still open and not iced-in? 04:27

MINNEAPOLIS — It's hard to complain about the temperatures this week. Unless, that is, your business revolves around a cold winter. 

We're nearing the time when ice should be starting to form on lakes, especially in northern Minnesota, but Mother Nature isn't cooperating.

Ice-in dates vary by region and lake. The Department of Natural Resources says ice-in is defined as a lake being completely covered in ice. Fishing guides define it as when a lake has 4 inches of ice, making it safe to walk on.

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The good news for the metro area is fishing guides feel we're still on schedule despite this incredibly balmy stretch. For Lake Vermillion in northern Minnesota, the median ice-in date is Nov. 26. With high temperatures in that region still well above normal, Vermillion's ice-in date could be delayed.

Meanwhile, Lake Minnetonka's median ice-in date is much later — Dec. 8.

WCCO spoke with a guide, Jason Ortberg, who said he feels that time frame remains within reach.

"If we're still warm the first and second week of December, I'll start to get worried. And right now that extended forecast shows, after Turkey Day, the lows start dropping into the mid- and low-teens and the highs are barely getting up to freezing," he said. "That water is really cold right now. Probably mid- to low-40s. So once we get that cold weather, it's not gonna take long to get that water down where it needs to be to start making ice."

If he does have a concern, it's with the predictions of a warm winter thanks to El Nino. That has a tendency to make the average temperatures 1 or 2 degrees higher in winter. But it also means less snow than average, and that is good news for ice fishing, especially after the hassle all that snow created last winter.

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