Officials warn to check, understand ice conditions after weekend of incidents

Gray ice on a lake.
Gray ice on a lake.(WSAW Hailey Clevenger)
Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 7:59 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The weather is always changing in northcentral Wisconsin, which means bad ice conditions are bound to happen and Lieutenant Cody Weisman of the Wausau Fire Department recommends that residents remain cautious and trust their meteorologists for weather changes.

Wisconsinites love their ice fishing, but officials warn that you can never be too sure what condition the ice is that you’ll run into. “If we’re having snow, heavy snow that day, there’s ice. I think you need to take their advice into consideration and don’t travel if you don’t need to,” said Lieutenant Weisman.

He knows it’s fun to go ice fishing and sledding, but put your safety first. It’s the best way to avoid a call to your local fire department.

Jake Bolks, a conservation officer with the DNR, recommends always being prepared for an emergency when heading out on the lake. Bring safety gear, let someone know where you’re going so they know when to expect you to return, and carry a life jacket.

Bolks said a life jacket is really the most important because not only can it save someone’s life if they happen to fall in the water, but it’s also warm and can protect a person from hypothermia. He said to also understand what type of waterbody you will be on.

“Do your own research on whatever lake or waterbody or river you’re going to. Depending on how the water flows, is going to depend on how safe the ice is,” said Bolks.

If you want to know what the conditions are like, Bolks said to talk to other fishermen and charge your phone before you go out. Another item to watch out for is if the ice is dark gray in color, it’s a sign that the ice is weaker in that area and it should be avoided.