River ice begins to break up in some areas

Mar. 14—River ice is beginning to break up in some local areas and lake ice continues to soften.

From Mankato to past St. Peter, the Minnesota River is largely open, with ice chunks flowing freely.

But farther upriver the Minnesota's ice is holding, with ribbons of open water beginning to show. With many industries, power plants and municipal systems sending treated — and warmer — water into the river at Mankato and St. Peter, the ice breaks up sooner.

While there is a heightened potential for spring flooding because of the wet, snowy winter, river levels remain relatively low.

At Mankato, the river fell from 6.6 feet a week ago to under 6 feet Tuesday.

The Mississippi River's ice is breaking up a little earlier than normal.

The Army Corps of Engineers reports the Motor Vessel Phillip M Pfeffer, with six barges, was through Lock and Dam 2 in Hastings on Sunday, marking the unofficial start to the 2023 navigation season.

The tow broke through the ice in Lake Pepin, the last major barrier for vessels reaching the head of the navigation channel in St. Paul. Located in Lake City, Lake Pepin is the last part of the river to break up because the river is wider and the current slower.

It won't be too long before ice starts clearing from area lakes.

Last year, ice was off of several area lakes by the first week of April.

April 24 is the average ice out date on lakes in the northern half of Minnesota.

A report from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency found that lake ice-in dates have become later and ice-out dates sooner in recent times.

The report found that since 1967 on Minnesota lakes, ice-in dates have moved about nine days later on average, while ice-out dates have moved about four to five days earlier. It amounts to about two weeks less ice time a season.