It’s On! Lake Mendota Finally Freezes

A UW sailboat hibernates - waiting for warmer waters. Photo: A. Hinterthuer
A UW sailboat hibernates – waiting for warmer waters. Photo: A. Hinterthuer

UPDATE: Due to the awesome amount of interest this post has generated, we thought we’d share last year’s more in-depth look at the late freeze AND a post on flu season and Lake Wingra to inject a bit more science into the proceedings! For the post you were linked to, read on:

This Monday, I walked past the over-wintering hulls of the Hoofers sailboats and thought to myself, “that lake sure looks frozen to me.” Well, self, good call.
The Wisconsin State Climatologist has officially declared January 14th, 2013 as the “ice on” date for Lake Mendota this winter season. (Monona had already succumbed to winter temps on New Year’s Eve and Wingra, as always, froze the earliest on December 21st). And that means CFL director, Steve Carpenter, and facilities manager, Dave Harring, are winners of the annual Hasler Lab ice-on pool!
Surprisingly, Mendota’s freeze occurred on the exact same day as last year’s freeze, a feat rarely, if ever, seen in the 150 year dataset of ice on dates.
The sun sets on Lake Mendota on January 14th - the official ice on date. Photo: A. Hinterthuer
The sun sets on Lake Mendota on January 14th – the official ice on date. Photo: A. Hinterthuer

We could go into long explanations of what these late freezes are saying about our changing climate, but you probably already know that freeze dates are getting later and  ice is coming off sooner. Besides, a late freeze wasn’t exactly unexpected with 2012 being the warmest year on record in the U.S. and all.
So, instead of the climate change lecture, we’ll remind you that a frozen lake is a beautiful thing with a few pictures and one random video of the awesome “Star Trek phaser-like” noise of a rock skidding across smooth ice – your daily moment of Zen, if you will. Enjoy.
Full freeze. Madison's skyline is framed by the heaved-up crust of the ice edge, a smattering of pancake ice, and a sheer icy sheen.
Full freeze. Madison’s skyline is framed by the heaved-up crust of the ice edge, a smattering of pancake ice, and a sheer icy sheen.

Clear ice - these legs weren't photoshopped in! Photo: A. Hinterthuer
“Floating” above the surface – these legs weren’t photoshopped in! Photo: A. Hinterthuer

And, finally, the distinct chirp/twang of skipping rocks on new ice. (We recommend volume up or headphones on!)

 
 

7 thoughts on “It’s On! Lake Mendota Finally Freezes”

  1. Please don’t encourage tossing rocks on the ice. I know the sound is great, but the rocks freeze-in and become an obstacle for skaters and all sorts of other ice recreation that could take place later if the ice gets thick enough. For example, if there is a couple inches of snow on top of safer ice later on, the rocks (then partially embedded into the ice) will damage cross-country skis.

  2. I understood from friends on the north shore that Mendota opened up, at least at the Middleton end, on Saturday nite 1/19 during the big blow. I suspect that it has closed again but have not checked with my north shore sources yet.

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