The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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February 1, 2013

Warning: lakes still have open water after freezing weather

MADISON LAKE — After two days of freezing cold weather, ice anglers, snowmobilers and others who enjoy activities on area lakes are being warned to watch for open water.

Mary Buschkowsky and her husband, Dennis, keep the official record for when Madison Lake freezes over. She said she was a little surprised to hear the narrows on the lake were wide open Thursday even though midday temperatures had dipped below zero.

“It should be froze solid,” she said. “If it’s this cold, I can’t imagine it being open.”

The narrows has actually been opening up during cold weather for several years, said Jim Sheppard. He lives on Point Pleasant, which is on the north end of the narrows. When it gets really cold, the ice along the narrows buckles up. Then when it warms up a bit or gets windy, the ice pulls back, leaving open water, Sheppard said.

Sunshine on exposed rocks can melt ice quickly, too, he said.

 But the open ice during this time of year is a more recent phenomenon.

“I don’t remember this every opening up when I was a kid,” he said.

Jo Schultz, who lives on the other side of the narrows on Stoney Point, said she’s concerned a decent snowfall could hide the dangers.

“With the open water, no one is trying to go through there,” she said. “The worst part is if it snows over, a snowmobiler might try to shoot across.”

Bob Drengler, 68, of Mankato found out the hard way Thursday night how dangerous the narrows on Lake Washington can be. He was driving a Cadillac over the narrows when the car broke through and partially sank. The men who helped rescue Drengler estimated he was on top of his car, wet from the waist down, for about 20 minutes before he was taken to safety.

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