The Ice Is Out!

     ice out on Saganaga

     Three feet of ice one day and gone the next. This is the fastest ice out we’ve ever seen on the Gunflint Trail.  It’s almost unbelievable, wait, what day is it? Yep, you guessed it, April Fool’s Day!

     While the 50 degree temperatures may have melted some of our snow it did little to the amount of ice on the lake.  It will probably be another month before you see a true title of my blog telling you the ice is out on Saganaga especially.

     How does lake ice melt and where can you keep track of Minnesota ice out? Here’s a good website to check and a quick recap of what happens to make ice melt.

Once the snow melts off the top of the ice, the ice is exposed to the sun. The ice then acts like a greenhouse to the lake water, and as the sun shines on the ice, it heats the water underneath the ice. The ice then starts to melt from the bottom, where it is touching the water. When the ice thickness erodes to between 4 and 12 inches, it transforms into long vertical crystals called "candles." These conduct light well, so the ice starts to look black, because it is not reflecting much sunlight.

As the sun continues to heat the ice, the water below the ice continues to warm. Meltwater fills in between the crystals, which begin breaking apart. The surface appears grayish as the ice reflects a bit more light than before.

Then, all we need is a windy day to break the surface ice apart. The ice candles will often be blown to one side of the lake, making a tinkling sound as they knock against one another.  The speed of the ice-out process will be dependent on how much sun and wind we get.