Unsafe Ice Conditions Persist

Ice conditions remain precarious on many lakes in our area. One particular concern is an area of open water and/or thin ice on Lake Minocqua on the west side of the Highway 51 bridge.

All recreational users are advised to avoid this area altogether. The snowmobile club will mark trails on the lake when they believe there is enough ice thickness for use.

Even if lake ice conditions were better, there is not enough snow on the ground at this time to enable  snowmobile trail systems to be opened.

While it may appear visually that the Pointe Hotel is operating aerators near the bridge, the hotel has not run aerators at any time this season. In fact, having solid ice in this area is critical to their winter business.

The cause of the open water near the Minocqua bridge is not known with certainty, but here are some of the possible contributing factors:

  • The dam on Lake Kawaguesaga is drawing down the lake level on the chain. This is a normal winter procedure and is not likely the sole cause. This process creates a subtle current through Lake Minocqua.
  • While the lake had a very early freeze-up, average temperatures in the weeks since have been well above normal, hampering the normal development of lake ice.
  • Groundwater levels in the area have been at record highs. It’s possible that the drawdown of the lake combined with high groundwater levels may be creating a spring-like action in some areas.
  • Around the corner from the Pointe Hotel, powerful aerators are being operated by The Pointe Condominiums facility and The Pointe Timeshares facility, both of which are separate entities from The Pointe Hotel. The DNR will look into whether horizontal movement of water along the shore is combining with the natural current under the bridge and contributing to the problem there.

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