How thick does ice need to be to make it safe to walk on?

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Earlier this week, a man and his dog had to be rescued after the man drove his truck onto the ice at Galesburg, Illinois' Lake Storey. Thankfully, both were rescued and are okay, however the truck was totaled.

It's a lesson we all should learn. Just because it's been frigid over the past few weeks, that doesn't necessarily mean the ice is thick enough to go out on.

Click here for ice conditions from the Iowa DNR

According to the Department of Natural Resources, 12-15 inches of solid ice is needed to safely drive a truck onto a lake or pond. 8-12 inches is needed for normal passenger vehicles. For snowmobiling, a minimum of 5 inches is recommended. And finally, for anyone walking or ice-fishing, 4 inches is what is needed to make the ice safe.

Now here's a trick to find out how thick the ice is. You'll need a cordless drill or auger and a tape measure. And if you're into ice fishing, you've already got the drill part! Just use a tape measure and put the tape-end down into water, into the hole you've made. Use the shiny, metal end to hook onto the underside of the ice. Then, read the thickness of the ice from the side.

And it's easy to remember:

4" to walk
8" to drive

This trick is only good for non-moving water. Rivers, creeks, and streams are never safe to walk on and there's no way to accurately measure the thickness of ice because it can vary due to water currents.

-Meteorologist Eric Sorensen

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