Is It Safe to Walk on Reston’s Lakes?

Frozen Lake Anne, Jan. 2014/Credit: David King via Facebook

Is the ice on Reston’s lakes thick enough for skating and walking?

It doesn’t seem like it, at least according to a spirited debate on the Reston Now Facebook page this weekend. But that’s not stopping some folks from trying.

“I live right on Lake Anne – NOT think enough for a cat to walk on much less a 50 lb. child,” Erin wrote.

Others said the lakes are strong enough to support a snowmobile right about now.

Officially, the Reston Association policy is “no skating,” said RA CEO Cate Fulkerson. But, like many parks policies, it is difficult to enforce.

Ice should be at least four-inches thick before it can support any human activity, according to a state agency that should know such things — the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. But many factors other than thickness can play a role in safety. Those factors may include the age of the ice, sun and wind. Newly-formed, clear ice is stronger and safer than white ice or “snow ice.”

“Old rule of thumb we used to use was at least four days with below freezing temps,” Virginia wrote on Facebook. “Depended on the size of the body of water though. That seldom occurs here in Virginia.”

But even that old rule of thumb may not be enough. For four inches of ice to form, the area would need more than a week of air temperatures consistently well below freezing. Around 9 a.m. Monday, the temperature in Reston was 37 degrees and had been above freezing for several hours. The air temperature also rose above freezing last Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Jan. 19-21, according to weather reports from the National Weather Service.

Two weeks ago, a Gaithersburg boy died when he fell through the ice on a pond.

The Minnesota authorities have some advice for anyone who falls through ice and into water.

Place your forearms and hands on an unbroken ice surface and kick your legs to propel yourself up onto the ice. Try to keep your body weight as spread out as possible, so don’t use the palms of your hands to lift yourself out of the water like you would with a pool. When you’re out of the water, remain lying down and roll away toward safety instead of standing up and walking.

What are your thoughts on walking on ice on Reston’s lakes? Tell us in the comments. 

Photo of frozen Lake Anne courtesy of Dave King, via Facebook.

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