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Recreation reminder issued after Lake McDonald, Flathead Lake freeze over

Posted at 4:00 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-12 12:36:33-04


KALISPELL – A string of negative temperature days froze two main lakes in the Flathead Valley for the first time in years.

Jim Craft, a research scientist with Flathead Lake Biological Station, said this is the first time in 25 years that Flathead Lake has completely frozen over.

He told MTN News that the wind, temperature and the lake’s current are all factors in freezing the lake.

Flathead Lake is 30 miles long and has strong currents, making it not easy to freeze over.

In fact, in his 30 years at Flathead Lake biological station, Craft has only seen the lake freeze a few times.

The view at Lake MacDonald in Glacier National Park MTN News photo)

However, as temperatures warm, ice on the lake is already melting. Craft warns folks against going out on the lake.

“You can be on 6″ of ice in one spot, take ten steps and be on 1″ of ice. So me, I’m not going out on the ice. Some of the bays might freeze a bit more solid, you don’t quite get the circulation to melt them out like that,” Craft said.

Lake McDonald in Glacier National Park also froze over this winter. GNP spokeswoman Lauren Alley says cold temperatures and low wind helped to form the layer of ice.

But like Flathead Lake, the 10-mile-long, 400-foot-deep water body is also seeing melting because of warmer weather.

Officials are stressing safety during recreation on the ice. One person reported falling in last week.