Jamie Pekelder of South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks advises anglers to use caution when heading onto the ice at area lakes. “If you are unsure of ice conditions, check the thickness before driving,” he says. “Stay away from shoreline areas with springs and creeks flowing into them, and do not cross ice heaves.” He suggests driving slowly on the ice to allow for extra reaction time for changing ice conditions.
The Department of Natural Resources provides guidelines, but says. “Despite this guide, ice is never 100 percent safe.” According to the publication, ice under 4 inches thick is unsafe for anything, ice from 5-7 inches is generally safe for an ATV or snowmobile, ice from 8-12 inches is safe for a small pickup or car, and ice 12-15 inches or more is safe for a medium-sized truck. These thicknesses apply for new, clear ice only. White ice or snow ice is only about half as strong as clear ice and requires double the stated thicknesses.
Pekelder says although most lakes around the area now have at least 20-plus inches of ice, “You still always take caution before entering the ice.”