Published May 2, 2023

Late Season Lake Ice 

Written by
Kim Fundingsland
| The Dakotan
This view of the embankment at Lake Darling was taken at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 30. (Photo: Kim Fundingsland/The Dakotan)
This view of the embankment at Lake Darling was taken at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, April 30. (Photo: Kim Fundingsland/The Dakotan)

Cold April 

MINOT – With temperatures in the 70s expected this week it will accelerate the dissipation of a lingering ice pack on many lakes. But there’s ample work for the sun and wind to do too as “ice out” this year ranks as one of the latest in history. 

May 1 is the annual opening date for boat fishing at Lake Darling, about 25 miles northwest of this city. Not this year however. The lake was still iced in, most of it anyway, far too much for boats to get on the water. A lone kayak was the only vessel on the lake May 1, and with limited open water available. 

“We don’t keep official records, but this must be one of the latest melts here,” said Tom Pabian, Upper Souris National Wildlife Refuge manager at Lake Darling. “I remember in 2008 or 2009 ice fishing at the Grano Crossing on May third, but that ice was gone a day or two later.” 

Lake Darling’s ice pack was quite dark earlier this week, signaling it was about ready to break up completely. On Monday Pabian estimated that about 20% of the reservoir had open water with ice persisting on the remainder. 

No docks were in place Monday due to ice conditions. They will be moved into place as soon as conditions permit, which could come quickly with rising temperatures and overnight lows remaining above the freezing mark. 

Minot’s average temperature for April was just 36 degrees, making it the 100th coldest April in 117 years. Bismarck’s average April temperature was warmer, 37 degrees. It is the 12th coldest April on record for that city.  

Lake Sakakawea as it appeared Saturday, April 29 at noon. (Photo: Kim Fundingsland/The Dakotan)

Lake Sakakawea, the state’s largest body of water, was coated in ice earlier this week with very few exceptions. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers tracks the annual “ice free” date on Sakakawea. That declaration usually occurs about mid-April.  

This year’s ice-free date for Lake Sakakawea appears to be several days away, which will place it within the top 10 latest ice-free dates on that popular body of water. Sakakawea was declared frozen on December 19, 2022. 


1-MAY 17, 1979. 

2-MAY 14, 1970. 

3-MAY 13, 2013. 

4-MAY 9, 2011. 

5-MAY 8, 1956. 

6-MAY 6, 1996, 1997. 

8-MAY 5, 1972, 1975. 

10-MAY 4, 1965. 

11-MAY 3, 1982. 

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