About 150,000 people will head to the frozen, icy lakes around Minnesota this year to wait for a walleye, pike, or panfish to nibble on their lines, according to the state’s tourism board. That’s a lot of cars and trucks looking for parking and a lot of ice in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. You can probably see where this is going.
This past weekend, six cars and SUVs were pulled out of Lake Pepin, a lake on the Mississippi River and about 70 minutes southeast of Minneapolis. According to local news reports, anglers keen to pull a fish from the icy waters flooded the lake this weekend, and when parking spaces ran out on land, people started parking on the frozen water. Burdened with thousands of pounds of car, truck, or SUV, ice does what it can do with enough weight—break—and the cars needed to be fished out of the lake by local authorities.
By the looks of it, it doesn’t appear any of the sunken vehicles were completely submerged; most appeared to be partially underwater or sticking out of the lake on solid ice. Rescuers eventually reeled in the submerged cars that were stuck after a while and placed “Thin Ice” signs on the lake to warn others from parking near the shore.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources suggests at least a foot of ice on a lake for small cars and one-and-a-half feet or more for medium or large trucks. The agency also recommends that drivers park at least 50 feet or more from other cars and move vehicles every 2 hours to avoid sinking. Driving with open windows and life jackets nearby—but not on—might be necessary if it’s not a clearly defined ice road, and to avoid driving near bridges or channels.
If you can’t accurately measure ice thickness, you may be forced to do the next best thing: go to the grocery store. Presumably, one without a parking lot on top of a frozen lake.
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