by Phil Prazan
Officials at Coralville Lake near Cedar Rapids want people to stay off the water all winter long because of its low water.
Just another example of how this drought is affecting Iowans safety for winter recreation.
If this drought and warmer weather continue into the winter, the ice layer on top of Iowa's lakes might be weak, and in some cases, might not even be there at all.
The sound of ice fishing drills usually would be heard around Iowa in the next couple of weeks, but not this year. It's been too warm. Add to that the low water levels and it could create a dangerous situation.
Eventually when the ice freezes, that might not stop the constant depletion of water underneath.
When that happens, sometimes ice pockets develop; which makes it much easier to go through.
Last year several ice fishermen in Iowa died by falling through the ice.
Saylorville Lake and Big Creek has been hitting record low water levels all year, which is raising concerns in the recreation community.
"Then you'll develop kind of an ice pocket, or an IR pocket underneath the ice so it won't be supported by the water. So when you add additional weight on it, like a person's weight, then the ice could collapse underneath you. Sometimes the ice actually follows the lake down and will collapse under its own weight, sometimes it build an air pocket," says Marvin Morris from the Army Corps of Engineers.
If these lakes ever freeze over, the DNR recommends that you stay off ice if it's less than two inches thick.
They recommend that it be four inches thick if you want to ice fish.