Break-up begins: Ice is going out on parts of the St. Croix River

Spring is getting closer as the river sheds its winter coat.




3 minute read

Spring has sprung. The ice went out on the river at Marine on St. Croix yesterday.

In an unofficial contest, riverside resident Greg Carlson declared the ice out at noon yesterday, March 11. St. Croix 360 reader and supporter Kate McDearmon was the lucky winner, congrats Kate!

According to organizer Linda Tibbets, previous ice-out dates were March 17, 2015 at 9:11 a.m.; March 7, 2016 at 2:01 p.m.; February 22, 2017 at 2:58 p.m.; March 28, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.; March 24, 2019 at 5:02 p.m.; March 12, 2020 at 4:03 a.m.

As of today, the head of Lake St. Croix is about half ice-free. I didn’t get to see the lower parts, but there’s been significant melting around Stillwater, where the water slows down.

Marine riverside resident and St. Croix 360 supporter/reader John Goodfellow has provided a play-by-play of watching the ice break up Wednesday and yesterday. His updates are shared below with permission. Thanks, John!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

10:34 a.m.

“Open water along both edges. Ice is looking pretty rotten but in a large continuous sheet. There are some dark spots and puddles of water.”

12:27 p.m.

“Crack all the way across seems to be forming. Not likely break up, but beginning of the end?”

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

10:18 a.m.

“River ice is looking really ‘rotten’ this morning with lots of holes opening up but still a continuous sheet.”

3:46 p.m.

“Ice is still in one big sheet but looking really thin with big dark spots and holes. Just seems to be melting away. River is up a couple inches so maybe that’ll break it loose.”

Thursday, March 11, 2021

8:20 a.m.

“Things are starting to change. Just in the last half-hour, a pressure ridge is forming and additional cracks. My guess is today may be the day.”

9:52 a.m.

“Update, cracks widen. Prediction for wind gusts 25 to 30 mph this afternoon. My guess is that we’ll break it loose.”

12:31 p.m.

“Ice is on the move. This looks like break-up.”

1:42 p.m.

“Things currently jammed up, presumably at the narrow stretch by the marina.”

2:37 p.m.

“Looks like she’s breaking loose, on the move again across most of the river. Fair amount of grinding and crunching.”

2:53 p.m.


2:58 p.m.

“Open water.”

6:39 p.m.

Friday, March 12

8:53 a.m.

“The morning after ice out. Little patches of skim ice because it was below freezing overnight, and some pileups on the shore. River is up probably four feet.”


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4 responses to “Break-up begins: Ice is going out on parts of the St. Croix River”

  1. Jim Cox Avatar
    Jim Cox

    Ok, awesome pics and details progression. For us novices, a la me, what exactly is the typically accepted definition of “ice out”?
    Jim, Circle Pines stcroix360 member

  2. Valoree Avatar

    I’m a desert rat transplanted to the land of big water. Never saw a river freeze before, nor one ice out. I guess it’s never too late to learn. Thx John for the play by play.

  3. Sandra Kettering Avatar
    Sandra Kettering

    Ice is out from the Afton/ catfish sandbar to the south for about a half mile or so.

  4. Russ Hanson Avatar

    It was still frozen above the dam in St Croix Falls although as you went north more of the river was open until at Spanglers landing it was fully open. At Nevers Dam a large rush of ice floes were coming through. I made a video of it with my cell phone


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Break-up begins: Ice is going out on parts of the St. Croix River