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    Lacking Ice, Man Rides Snowmobile on Open Water

    January 20, 2012, 3:14:20 AM EST

    Video poster Mark Freeman wrote "Sinking my sled by accident, didn't have enough snow to ride so I figured I'd take it on the water, made it almost to the shore when the belt got wet! My bad! Sled is up and running again anyways! Just had to drain the water out!"

    Unseasonably warm temperatures across the northern United States and southern Canada during fall and winter kept many lakes and streams from freezing ice thick enough for winter sports fanatics this year.

    "Nobody around here can remember a year quite like this. We've had a really, really warm fall and winter out here, unseasonably so," Tim Smalley, the water safety specialist for Minnesota Department of Resources said. "The ice never got good."

    "The old-timers that are out there who remember when it was cold earlier, those days have changed," Jack Sullivan, the director of Science Services with Wisconsin of Department of Natural Resources said. "We're just not going to get lake ice as long as we used to. Over the last century, on average, we're down about 19 days a year in ice cover."

    In January, two men died in Minn., in a snowmobile accident on a poorly frozen lake. Another man died in South Dakota in an ATV accident on ice. Both reports identified bad ice conditions as contributing factors.

    "The ice conditions right now are very, very difficult at best," Hamlin County Chief Deputy Chad Schlotterbeck of South Dakota said to Keloland Television. "We have lots of open spots, lots of weak ice. We could go from 5 inches thick down to one-inch thick in many places."
    Safety On Ice
    - Don't go onto ice alone. - Carry an ice pick so you can get out of the water if you fall in. - Remember that ice is never totally safe.

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