Ice Thickness Safety Information:

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Here is some ice load information gathered from various sources. Please note that not everyone agrees on the safe ice thicknesses for various loads and that there are many variables to consider when determining if the ice is safe for the load you want to put on it. This post is just for general information purposes.

Ice load info from the Farmer's Almanac

From the Army Corp of Engineers:

Every winter it becomes very important to know when the ice is safe to use. Here are some guidelines for determining the safety of freshwater ice. The following table of safe loads is valid ONLY for ice that is clear and sound, with no flowing water underneath. It is not reliable for stationary loads. When in doubt, stay off the ice !

It is highly recommended that you familiarize yourself with the Safety on Floating Ice Sheets information by CRREL.

Loads on Ice

Required Minimum Ice Thickness in inches Description of Safe Moving Load
1-3/4 One person on skies
2 One person on foot or skates
3 One snowmobile
3 A group of people walking single file
7 A single passenger automobile
8 A 2-1/2 ton truck
9 A 3-1/2 ton truck
10 A 7 to 8 ton truck


Safe loads for clear solid ice are indicated below:

Thickness of Ice Load or Activity
< 1 3/4 STAY OFF
1 3/4 One person cross county skiing
2 One person on foot or skates
3 Snowmobile or smaller ATV, groups of people walking single line
4 Person ice fishing, good for walking individual
7 A small car
8 A 2 1/2 tons truck
9 A 3 1/2 tons truck
10 A 7 – 8 tons truck

Note that ice strength is influenced by many factors

  • age – newer black ice is stronger than old milky
  • distance to shore – ice close to shore is weaker than ice farther out
  • river outlets and inlets – ice close to outlets and inlets is weaker
  • obstructions like rocks, trees and plants
  • water currents
  • cover of snow

 This information must be used a general guide – keep off the ice if you are not absolutely sure.


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