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Ice-out on Lake Sakakawea among latest on record

Lake Sakakawea is seen in this Forum News Service file photo

MINOT, N.D. -- Lake Sakakawea's boating season is already assured of being one of the latest on record. Thick ice remained on much of the sprawling reservoir. However, there are reports of increasingly open water on the upper end of Lake Sakakawea from the Williston area to the east for several miles. Traditionally, warmer water entering Lake Sakakawea's upper end begins the spring melt of the ice pack.

As of Tuesday, the middle and lower sections of Lake Sakakawea remained socked in ice. There was some open water along shorelines but no boating access. The boat ramps remained trapped in ice at both Lake Sakakawea State Park at Pick City and Fort Stevenson State Park south of Garrison.

There was an icy damper on the much anticipated opening of the boat fishing season at Lake Darling Tuesday. Most of the lake remained covered in ice. A portion the lake had 6 to 20 inches of ice remaining from about where it angles north all the way to the Grano Crossing.

Each year an observer at the Garrison Dam Power Plant determines when Lake Sakakawea is officially “ice free.” This year is already one for the record books. Only eight times in the history of the reservoir has the “ice free” designation occurred in May, ranging from May 3, 1982 to May 17, 1979.