The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, St. Paul District, will begin taking this year’s annual Lake Pepin ice measurements Feb. 21. The Corps takes ice measurements on Lake Pepin annually to forecast the navigational outlook on the Upper Mississippi River.

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Lake Pepin, the widest naturally-occurring part of the Mississippi River, is located between Red Wing and Wabasha. Measurements taken here give the best outlook as it is the last segment in the navigation channel in which winter ice will break up. A survey crew uses an airboat and a global positioning system to collect the data. The information is used by the navigation industry to predict when it’s safe to break through the ice and begin the 2018 navigation season. Historically the average date in which navigation is open occurs during the third week of March.

Last year, the Motor Vessel Stephen L. Colby was the first tow to pass through Lake Pepin and reach St. Paul on March 9, 2017.

The ice measurement data will be posted on the St. Paul District’s website.