The death of a Waterloo man who fell through the ice on a lake in Cedar Falls while ice fishing has prompted a warning about the stability of ice on lakes and rivers. Mick Klemesrud with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources says there’s a potential danger on most ice right now because the snow cover is acting as an insulator.
Klemesrud found out first hand as he checked the ice on Clear Lake Wednesday. He says in the places where there was no snow on the ice, it was about six inches thick. But, he says just 20 feet away where the ice had snow cover, it was just three inches thick. Klemesrud says with the uncertain conditions on the ice, you need to be even more careful than normal.
Klemesrud recommends that you don’t go out alone, and that you take a “spud bar”, a device that lets you bang holes in the ice to see how thick the ice is. Klemesrud says there are other signs of potential danger. He says make sure you don’t go into areas that look off-colored or that have discolored snow as that’s an indication that there’s water on the ice or something that should be avoided.
Klemesrud says people may think the frigid temperatures automatically generate thick ice — but he says there’s not been enough time in the deep freeze. He says with the below zero temperatures we had recently, “We should have been laying down ice like crazy. But the problem was, you know with that snow, it knocks it back quite a bit, instead of putting on two inches of ice, it maybe put on a half an inch.”
Klemesrud says ice fishing has grown a lot in popularity the past several years. He says ice fishing is a social sport and people enjoy it because they have access to the entire lake and you don’t need a boat and a lot of equipment to catch a lot of fish. Klemesrud says the D-N-R recommends a minimum of four inches of ice for general use. Ice should be at least five inches thick to support a snowmobile, at least seven and a half inches thick to support a car weighing no more than two tons.