MELTDOWN - How safe is the ice?

A lot of people took advantage of the nice day Monday, including ice fishermen who got out on to the frozen lakes while they still can.

But as temperatures shoot up, how safe is it to be on the ice right now?

While WSBT visited Lake Wawasee, we saw a lot of people on the ice.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources says the ice is thick enough to support all of this activity, but the warmer weather is a sign ice fishing season is nearing its end.

"I just don't have that confidence (to be on the lake ice fishing)," said Sam Lashley of the DNR. "Trying to explain to the wife that I lost the truck would be kind of difficult, but there's more than enough ice."

Four inches of what the DNR calls 'good ice,' or ice that is solid, is safe enough to walk on.

Five to six inches is thick enough to support your snowmobile or ATV, and you need at least 10 inches of ice to take your truck out.

Right now, the lake has a layer of ice at least 2 feet thick.

"The ice fishermen we've been checking with say there's 16 to 22 inches," said DNR Conservation Officer Jerry Hoerdt.

What they like to call 'bad ice' is a sign the ice is on its way out.

"When you get standing water on the ice with warm temperatures coming and the sun that's out, it does begin to deterioriate the ice," Hoerdt added.

"The ice will get nasty after a while," noted ice fisherman Stephen Steele.

Experienced ice fishers like Steele are surprised to be seeing this much 'good ice' as late as mid-March. However, they're counting down the days until the end of their season.

"As the weather starts to warm up, it's time to pack up and do something else," Steele said.

Smaller, inland lakes like Lake Wawasee are a little bit of a safer bet, but flowing water like rivers and creeks have much thinner ice and need extra precaution.

Lake Michigan, because it's so large, can also see ice break off into pieces, which is potentially dangerous.

The DNR says the best way to make sure the ice is thick enough to go out on is simply to ask.

Talk to anyone who has experience being on the ice, or contact the DNR.