Thin ice could mean potential problems in southeast Minn. - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Thin ice could mean potential problems in southeast Minn.

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ALBERT LEA, Minn. (KTTC) -- Minnesota is the land of 10,000 lakes, but it is also the land of more than a million children.  When bone chilling temperatures set in, those lakes become ice and a danger to each one of those children.

"Know where your kids are.  If they are going to be outside playing, there is something about water, whether it's open water or frozen, that actually really attracts people.  Kids especially," says Myre-Big Island State Park park manager Jerry Katzenmeyer.

The ice on the edge of Albert Lea lake is frozen, but that's not to say the whole lake is because parts are still open water.  The DNR. recommends a thickness of at least four inches before anyone can walk on it.  Deciding whether ice is four inches thick can be difficult, so how do you tell?

"Right now there's some visual cues because you can see cracks in the ice, which tell you you can get a real good cue on how deep the ice is in that particular spot, but you really have to be careful," Katzenmeyer said.

For thrill seekers young and old the smooth surface of the lake can cause visions of an adrenaline filled mirage as they patiently wait for the first snowfall.  Snowmobile riders may want to pump their brakes a bit and burst that bubble.  The DNR. recommends a mere five inches to those wanting to reach cheek flapping speeds across the ice.

"Ice is never truly 100% safe. Never before the first of January, we've had to have several, many days of below zero to get good thickness of ice," says Dirk Devries, president of the Freeborn County Snowmobile Trail Association.

Snowmobiling in the Albert Lea area is a scenic ride for families. The 232 miles of marked trails in Freeborn County weave all around the lake.  If you or your children are going to attempt to cross make sure you aren't the first.

"If I were to take my kids out there I'd make sure someone has already been out there.  Let them be the tester or guinea pig.  I predominately never took my kids out on the lake when they were younger because if something were to happen I don't think that they could react fast enough," Devries said.
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