A large ice hole has again opened on the Highway 371 bay of North Long Lake, prompting officials to ask snowmobilers to use caution when traveling on that part of the lake.
Crow Wing County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Irv Tollefson said thin ice signs have been posted around the open water and at access around Highway 371 bay.
"It's been kind of the problem the last couple of couple of years," said Tollefson. "We really haven't had that much cold weather and I see people driving on the lakes now, it's bad. You want to be careful."
The water temperature around the open water on the Highway 371 bay has been recorded as high as 60 degrees recently, said Thirty Lakes Watershed Chair Dick Beeson. What is causing the water temperature to rise in that part of the lake is not known, said Beeson.
A concern is the lack of snow, which makes it difficult to see the open water on the lake, Beeson said.
The biggest danger is to snowmobilers, who can't see the open water when riding at night, Beeson said.
The DNR recommends a minimum ice thickness of 5 inches for snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles, and a minimum of 8 to 12 inches of ice for cars and small trucks.
On March 1 a 47-year-old Brainerd man drowned after his four-wheeler went into the open water on the Highway 371 bay. A week later four snowmobilers went into the same open water, but all made it out alive.
Four people drowned in ice-related accidents in Minnesota in 2001. Three people died in ice-related drownings in 2000.
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