A snow-mobiler was pulled from Lake Winnebago over the weekend, after falling through ice near Buoy 100 in Menasha.
That spot by Jefferson Park is mostly open water two days later.
“We’re just asking people to outright avoid this area because of the dangers associated,” says Mike Sipin, from Neenah-Menasha Fire Rescue, which assisted at the scene.
We’re told ice is less than three inches thick in the Neenah-Menasha area. The fire department says it’s not safe to walk on and definitely not thick enough for a snowmobile or car. They suggest you look up ice conditions daily to make sure winter activities are safe before heading out on the ice.
Sipin says, “We recommend contacting or going to the Facebook page of Don Herman for SUNK? Dive and Ice. He’s a phenomenal resource. He knows that lake really well.”
We caught up with Don Herman, who told us 95 percent of Lake Winnebago has a layer of ice 12 to 15 inches thick.
Herman says, “Instead of going out with four-wheelers and ATVs and snowmobiles, they can actually get out there with vehicles.”
The Department of Natural Resources has a helpful guide: four inches of ice can hold a fisherman; five inches, a snowmobile; eight to 12 inches holds a car; more than that can support a pickup truck.
Herman predicts Lake winnebago will get another inch of ice by Saturday, just in time for sturgeon spearing.
To be safe, officials ask everyone to travel out on the ice in pairs, during the day, and when there is good visibility.
The ice is never 100 percent safe.