Even though the weather hasn't been warm lately, it's still a good time to start thinking about spring - and when the ice will melt away on Lake L'Homme Dieu in Alexandria.
The Echo Press' annual Ice Out Contest is off and running. Official spotters from the newspaper will determine when the ice is essentially gone from the lake.
The person who comes closest to guessing that date will receive a $50 gift certificate from Elden's Fresh Foods. In case of a tie, a drawing will be held to determine the winner.
Entry forms are in today's newspaper and will also be in the Lakeland Shopping Guide. (Only one entry is allowed per person.)
The deadline to guess when the ice will be off Lake L'Homme Dieu, the "official" ice-out lake, is Friday, March 17 at noon.
Last year, the ice was gone from the lake on March 26 - the earliest ice out in four years.
More than 200 people entered last year's contest. The winner was Jamie Lorentz of Miltona, who nailed the exact date along with 12 others. A drawing determined the winner.
The Echo Press has been keeping track of ice-out times dating back to 1867. Lake Osakis was originally the official lake but the site was changed to Lake L'Homme Dieu in 1965.
Ice-out dates have ranged from the earliest, March 25 (in both 2000 and 2012), to the latest, May 15, 1878.
The ice has left the lake on May 1 or later just seven times in the last 100 years.
RECENT ICE OUTS
Here are the ice-out dates on Lake L'Homme Dieu over the past 20 years.
2016: March 26
2015: April 11
2014: April 26
2013: May 13
2012: March 25
2011: April 22
2010: April 2
2009: April 21
2008: May 2
2007: April 18
2006: April 9
2005: April 11
2004: April 7
2003: April 13
2002: April 16
2001: April 26
2000: March 25
1999: April 10
1998: April 7
1997: April 26