Experts say cold temperatures result in fast ice growth on Lake Winnebago

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OSHKOSH, Wis. (WBAY) - Many of us may be dreading the plummeting temperatures, but experts say those cold temperatures this week will be a blessing for anglers on Lake Winnebago. They say the lake has gained almost four inches of ice already since Friday.

Otter Fishing Club chairman Don Herman flew a plane over Lake Winnebago on Monday. He says there are no longer open holes on the lake.

"The whole lake is frozen up. We have about eight inches of ice in most places. There's a couple places where we only have three, but it's making ice right now," said Herman.

Herman says when the temperature is at zero degrees Fahrenheit, ice can grow about an inch every 24 hours, and when it's below zero, sometimes ice can grow up to two inches every 24 hours.

"If it gets below zero it can get up to two inches as long as we don't have any snow. So, everybody's optimistic that we're going to be driving on the lake in about a week-and-a-half," Herman says.

In less than two weeks hundreds of people plan to take part in the annual "Walk Across Lake Winnebago" for charity. The event is dependent on whether the lake is safe enough to walk across.

"I think they might be able to do it. They're going to be able to walk across without a problem and with 4-wheelers, too,” said Herman. “But they might not be able to drive across with vehicles, but I'm sure the walk can happen.”

Herman says he needs at least a foot of ice before bridges can be put out for vehicles, so the cold temperatures comes as good news.

"It’s very good news, because we're about two weeks behind schedule right now. Last year we put the bridges out January 2nd,” adds Herman.

Still, snow storms may put ice development on hold.

"If you get a lot of snow out here it insulates the ice and you need colder weather in order to get it to freeze, so we're hoping for not a lot of snow until we get a good base," Herman says.

Even with a thick ice base, Herman wants people to remain vigilant when out on the ice.

"The ice conditions are never 100 percent safe,” he said. “It can change a crack and open up, you know? You just got to remember be careful.”

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