Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Warning: Ice conditions on Lakes Monona, Waubesa, Kegonsa and Wingra may rapidly become unsafe

February 13, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski, 267-8823 Sgt. David Ritter, 284-6878
County Executive

County Executive Kathleen Falk and Sheriff Gary Hamblin today are advising the public that current ice conditions on Lakes Monona, Waubesa, Kegonsa and Wingra might rapidly become unsafe. Although the recent cold temperatures and the appearance of the ice may lead people to believe that the ice is safe for travel, recent University of Wisconsin-Madison sampling indicates that water temperatures just below the ice on Lakes Waubesa, Kegonsa and Wingra are much warmer than usual. This causes the ice to become soft except for the topmost few inches that hardened during the last few weeks of cold weather. A DNR researcher who flew over Lake Monona yesterday saw major open holes in the southern part of the lake, so conditions on Lake Monona may be similar. UW crews are sampling ice thickness today to verify. Although the lakes may appear to have thick ice in certain areas, any warming in the weather would cause the entire ice layer to become unsafe very quickly. On Lake Mendota, water temperatures appear to be closer to normal. In late January, UW sampling indicated 14 inches of hard ice there, and water temperatures in Mendota are more typical of a normal winter with cold temperatures right under the ice. Falk and Hamblin advised that areas close to bridges, expansion cracks, inlets or outlets, and shallows may be especially hazardous. # # #