It's official: Lake Mendota has frozen over

MADISON (WKOW) -  As of Tuesday, Dane County's largest lake has officially frozen over, according to Clean Lakes Alliance. The big cold snap late is month is to thank for speeding up the icing process. 

Lake Mendota's first freeze is a bit later than average, typically occurring on December 20th. But last winter, it didn't freeze until January 1, 2017. The latest first freeze of the lake on record was on January 30, 1932 and the earliest was November 23, 1880.

Technically, the lake froze over on Monday, but the Wisconsin State Climatology Office requires the ice to hold for a full 24 hours before it can officially be declared frozen over. This freeze happens 17 days after Lake Wingra froze over, the smallest lake in the Yahara Watershed.

Though it is now frozen, the ice may still be thin, especially towards the center of the lake. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends waiting for the ice to be three inches thick before venturing out. But if you plan on ice fishing, they say four inches is best. They also strongly encourage going on the ice with someone else and taking a life vest with you, in case the ice breaks.

Clean Lakes Alliance is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to maintaining the well-being of the Yahara Watershed.

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