Lake City, MN (KROC-AM News) - The 2016 shipping season on the upper Mississippi River could be get off to a very early start this year. The first round of measurements of the ice on Lake Pepin show that it is a little thinner than it was a year ago, when the shipping season began on March 13th after an exceptionally mild winter.

A team from the US Army Corps of Engineers measured the thickness and quality of the ice at 11 locations on Wednesday and found the thickest ice in the navigation channel a couple miles south of Lake City at 17 inches. A year ago, ice in that same area was 19 inches thick. The ice also covered a much larger area of the lake, which required the Army Corps of Engineers team to make measurements at 18 locations.

At this point, the agency says it is planning on making a second round of measurements on March 1st, but that might have to be revisited with weather forecasters predicting high temperatures in southeastern Minnesota at around 15 to 20 degrees above average for the next week.

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