Lake Mendota officially freezes over for winter season

MADISON, Wis. — Lake Mendota has officially frozen over for the season.

That’s according to the Wisconsin State Climatology Office, which said Dane County’s largest lake officially froze over early Friday morning. The Jan. 7 ice-on date was 23 days shy of Lake Mendota’s latest ice-on date. That record was set Jan. 30, 1932.

The Climatology Office requires ice to hold over on the entirety of the lake for at least 24 hours before it can be declared frozen over.

While the entirety of Lake Mendota is now covered in what appears to be solid ice, local safety officials warned that the ice is likely still thin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources recommends waiting until there are at least four inches of ice cover before venturing out onto local lakes. DNR officials recommend telling someone or going with a friend anytime you plan to walk on the frozen lakes.

“If you can row a boat between Picnic Point and Maple Bluff to deliver a case of beer, the ice is open, the lake is open,” Adam Sodersten from the Clean Lakes Alliance said, “but if you can’t, it’s closed, so they still rely on that.”

RELATED: When will Lake Mendota freeze over this year? Local experts want you to guess

Each year, the Clean Lakes Alliance holds a Mendota Freeze Contest asking people to guess when the lake would officially freeze. More than 1,600 people entered this year’s contest, and 98 of those guessed it would freeze Jan. 7. This year’s winner, Jennifer Fjelsted of Fond du Lac, will get a $1,000 Lands’ End gift card as the grand prize.

Fjelsted told the Clean Lakes Alliance she plans to use her winnings to buy warm winter gear.