Lake City, MN (KROC-AM) - The wait for “ice out” on Lake Pepin will likely not be anywhere near as long this year as it was in 2018.

A team from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ventured out yesterday onto the ice covering the lake to measure its thickness and quality in a sure sign that spring is approaching. The measurements are used by the agency to prepare for the start of the shipping season. It didn’t start last year until April 11th, which was the latest ever due to ice conditions.

The measurements taken yesterday indicate the thickest ice was found just south of Lake City at 21-inches. The first round of measurements last year, which were taken a week later, showed the ice was nearly 30-inches thick and it was still over 20-inches thick in early April.

The earliest date for the start of the shipping season on the Upper Mississippi River is March 4th, which has occurred several times, with the most recent occurrence in 2000. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the average start date is March 11th.