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BWCA Weather for Ely, Grand Marais, and the Gunflint Trail

Spring Ice Out 2005
2005 Poll:  When will the ice go out on Gunflint Lake?  April 22nd

Ice Out Reader Survey

Actual 2005 Ice Out Dates

Answers Percent Gunflint Lake 04/22/05
March - April 5th 1% Fall Lake 04/16/05
April 6th - April 12th 3% Island Lake 04/17/05
April 18th - April 24th 8% Saganaga Lake 04/20/05
April 25th - May 1st 15% Shagawa Lake (Ely) 04/17/05
May 2nd - May 8th 21% Snowbank Lake 04/19/05
May 9th - May 15th 25% Sturgeon Lake 04/16/05
May 16th - May 22nd 15% Lake Vermilion 04/19/05
May 23rd - May 31st 8% Wolf Lake 04/18/05
June 2005 5% Lake Kabetogama 04/20/05

2005 ice-out recap

Minnesota Climatology

Prospects for an early ice-out for 2005 didn't seem to be in the cards for Minnesota. Indeed the first few lakes in the far south central portions of the state lost their ice near historical averages. Tiny Iowa Lake in Martin County was first, losing its ice by March 28th. Budd Lake in Martin County followed on March 30, one day later than the historical average. The statewide temperature average for March 2005 was just a little cooler than average.

April came with May-like temperatures. The first 17 days of the month were ten degrees above average statewide. Even in northeast Minnesota, which still held onto a snow pack at the beginning of the month, was seven degrees above average. The balmy conditions accelerated ice-out across the rest of Minnesota. In central portions of the state, lakes like White Bear and Minnetonka were ice-free by April 9th, which was several days ahead of average. Green Lake in Kandiohi County lost its icy cover on April 10th six days ahead of its long term average. In general, lakes were ice-free three days to a week ahead of average in Central Minnesota. Mille Lacs was stubborn to lose its ice and one couldn't pilot a boat from Isle to Garrison until April 20, still four days earlier than average.

The warmth continued during the third week of April and ice thawed on northern lakes more rapidly. As of April 21 virtually all lakes across northeast Minnesota were ice-free. Even lakes that typically keep their ice the latest like Vermilion looked blue to airplane pilots on April 19th. The last two years the lake was still iced until the end of April. Shagawa Lake just north of Ely lost its ice ten days ahead of average. Most lakes in northern Minnesota were ice-free seven to ten days ahead of average.

By Monday, April 25 all the lakes in Minnesota were ice-free. The last lakes to lose their ice were Rainy Lake and Lake of the Woods on April 23.

While 2005 will not go into the record books as the earliest ice-out ever for any lakes with long-term records, the rapid warm-up though moved the ice-out quicker than what was expected at the beginning of the month.


The definition of lake ice-out varies from lake to lake, and individual to individual. For some, ice-out occurs only when the lake is completely free of ice. For others, ice-out is defined as the moment when navigation is possible from point A to point B. And yet for others, ice-out is when 90 percent of the lake is ice free. Due to the variable definitions of this rather subjective observation, the State Climatology Office attempts to contact the same individuals each year to maintain a consistent record. The table below will depict 2005 information obtained from this informal poll. The table is updated on Mondays.

Lake Name County

Average  Ice-Out

Earliest Ice-Out

Latest Ice-Out

Years of Data

Fall Lake

April 28

April 10, 1945

May 19, 1950

Gunflint Cook

May 7

April 15, 1976

May 26, 1966

Island St. Louis

April 25

April 5, 2000

May 8, 1996

Mitawan Lake

May 1

April 18, 1955

May 20, 1950

Vermilion St. Louis

April 30

April 10, 1945

May 23, 1950

Shagawa Lake St. Louis

April 27

April 14, 1998

May 16, 1996

Burntside St. Louis

April 29

April 16, 1987 May 16, 1996 32

--Data courtesy Minnesota Climatology Group, Burntside data courtesy Mark Cherne

Spring Ice Out Polls and Spring BWCA Trip Discussions



Send us your ice-out reports 2008 Ice Out Survey
Spring Ice Out Trips 2007 Ice Out Survey
Is There still Cross Country Skiing? 2006 Ice Out Survey
Current Temp at Gunflint Lake 2004 Ice Out Survey
Current Temperature in Ely 2003 Ice Out Survey
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