Crews from the Army Corps of Engineers plan to begin taking measurements of the ice covering Lake Pepin this week.

The annual check of the ice thickness and condition is done to help determine when the Upper Mississippi River shipping season can open. The measurements on Lake Pepin are used because it is the last part of the river’s navigation channel where ice breaks up.

Record thick ice last year delayed the opening of the shipping season until April 14. That was the latest due to thick ice since 1970.The average start date of the navigation season is March 22. The 2014 shipping season ended in late November.

Even if the ice breaks up early this year, traffic won’t be able to head upstream until March 9th due to construction work at the lock near Fountain City, Wisconsin.

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