The ice on Lake Pepin is 17 inches thick near the center of the lake.
That's according to the first round of measurements taken Wednesday by the U-S Army Corps of Engineers. The ice thickness is used as a way for shipping company to determine when the first towboats will head north towards St. Paul.
The earliest opening of the shipping season on the UpperMississippi River on record is March 3rd. The average opening is March 24th. Last year the first towboat made it through the lake on March 13th.
Towboats don't have to wait for ice-out on Lake Pepin to make it into Winona to open the shipping season here.....