Lake City, MN (KROC-AM News) - To no one’s surprise, a team from the US Army Corps of Engineers found the ice covering Lake Pepin is still pretty thick.

Using an airboat, the team toured the frozen section of the Mississippi River on Wednesday and used a powered auger to drill 17 holes to measure the thickness of the ice as part of the federal agency’s preparations for the start of the shipping season on the Mississippi River. They found the ice is up to 29 inches thick in many areas of the lake. It was even 19 inches thick at the south end of Lake Pepin.

Barring an extreme, and unexpected warm-up, the shipping season is unlikely to begin as early as it did last year when the first barge made it to St. Paul on March 9th. A spokesman for the Corps of Engineers indicated it the signs are pointing to a more average start date for the shipping season in the third week of March.

The second round of measurements is scheduled to take place on March 7th.

U.S Army Corps of Engineers

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