Lake Sakakawea declared frozen

Another record has been set in what can only be described as a very unusual year for weather over much of North Dakota. Lake Sakakawea was declared frozen over Saturday, making 2013 the shortest open water season in the history of the massive reservoir a mere 214 days.

Lake Sakakawea wasn’t ice free until May 13 of this year. It was the third latest ice-out since record keeping began in 1961. This year’s freeze tied the year 2000 for third on the reservoir’s all-time list of earliest freeze dates, surpassed only by Nov. 30, 1985 and Dec. 11, 1961.

The previous record for the least amount of open water on Lake Sakakawea was 220 days set in 1970. In that year the ice didn’t leave until May 14 and the reservoir was declared frozen Dec. 21.

While the freezing of Lake Sakakawea doesn’t carry any significance to the operation of the reservoir, it is an indicator of the colder than normal weather that has been influencing the region.

A record for moisture was snapped earlier this year at the North Central Research and Extension Center south of Minot. To date 32.84 inches of precipitation has been recorded at that location. The amount is nearly six inches more than the previous precipitation record set in 1975 and nearly 16 more than the yearly average of 15.89 inches. There are 17 days remaining in 2013 to add to the total.