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Friday, Apr. 29, 2016

Ice conditions hamper travel on West Lake

Saturday, February 2, 2013

"Nothing significant" is the phrase Jeff Morrison uses to describe a handful of vehicle operators who encountered unstable ice over the weekend.

The DNR conservation officer was aware of about a half-dozen reports of riders whose vehicles broke through the frozen surface of West Lake Okoboji.

"There was an ATV that went through the ice in the Omaha Beach area, the southeast side of Heyward's Bay," Chris Yungbluth, the Arnolds Park/Okoboji Fire Chief said. "A four-wheeler went in and a gentleman went in with it but he was able to extricate himself. He and his friends were concerned about finding a safe way back off the ice, and we did assist them with our rescue team. The vehicle was recovered later by a private towing company."

Morrison said wreckers were called to Miller's Bay and Pillsbury Point as well.

"They still need to be careful," Morrison said. "Monitor ice conditions as you go - you might even stop and drill a couple of test holes. But, stay away from the points and the seams. The seams are really bad this year, for whatever reason. In many cases it will be like an ice heave, so we'll see an area where the ice is sticking up. Often, on either side of that will be open water."

Officials say at least 4 inches are desired for foot traffic on frozen lakes. Snowmobiles or ATVs need at least 5 inches. Cars and small trucks need 8-12 inches of ice. Larger trucks ideally need 12-15 inches.

"Just because someone goes in front of you doesn't mean it is safe for the next person," Yungbluth said. "We always say no ice is safe ice, but if you are going to be driving a vehicle out there, just know your conditions and avoid seams and points, especially this year with the shallow water. The ice is probably thinner and you are at higher risk of having your vehicle submerged and having financial loss - or even possible life loss if you get submerged with it."

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