Pond hockey was a fond memory of mine growing up. An ice resurfacer (Zamboni) would have been nice, but, beggars can't be choosers. Knowing when the ice was safe was always a pain in the butt because we were so anxious to get out there and play.

A close friend of mine actually fell through the ice when we were about 13. It was a scary situation. He was able to pull himself out with impunity, but, we never forgot it.

In my travels a few weekends ago, I noticed one of the local lakes was half frozen and the other half water. One would think that if ANY water was visible then the entire lake would be considered unsafe. That is not necessarily the case, however.

So, when is it safe? I mean, embracing winter is important. In Massachusetts, winter lasts six months, so... 😁

Here's When It's Safe For Massachusetts Residents To Be On The Ice

A sign warns of danger as ice thaws on a pond in southern Wisconsin.

There are no guarantees. Always consider ice to be potentially dangerous. You can't judge ice conditions by appearance or thickness alone; many other factors like water depth, size of waterbody, water chemistry, currents, snow cover, age of ice, and local weather conditions impact ice strength. -mass.gov

  • New ice is stronger than old ice. Four inches of clear, newly formed ice may support one person on foot, while a foot or more of old, partially thawed ice may not.
  • Ice doesn't freeze uniformly. Continue to check ice conditions frequently as you venture out onto the ice.
  • Ice formed over flowing water and currents is often more dangerous. Avoid traveling onto ice-bound rivers and streams, as the currents make ice thickness unpredictable. Many lakes and ponds may contain spring holes and other areas of currents that can create deceptively dangerous thin spots.
Ice Thickness (inches)Permissible Load (on new clear/blue ice on lakes or ponds)
2" or lessSTAY OFF!
4"Ice fishing or other activities on foot
5"Snowmobile or ATV
8"–12"Car or small pickup truck
12"–15"Medium truck

LOOK: The most extreme temperatures in the history of every state

Stacker consulted 2021 data from the NOAA's State Climate Extremes Committee (SCEC) to illustrate the hottest and coldest temperatures ever recorded in each state. Each slide also reveals the all-time highest 24-hour precipitation record and all-time highest 24-hour snowfall.

Keep reading to find out individual state records in alphabetical order.

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