See more of the story

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office declared ice-out on Lake Minnetonka on Wednesday, just days shy of a record date amid a warm Minnesota winter.

The declaration, made about 5:53 p.m. Wednesday, is the unofficial start of the boating season on the metro area's largest lake, the Sheriff's Office said in a statement.

Officials on Wednesday were able to safely pilot a patrol boat through all the lake's channels and bays without obstruction by ice, the statement said.

The earliest ice-out date was March 11, 1878. Officials from the nonprofit Freshwater and the Sheriff's Office water patrol had hoped to declare the lake ice free Monday, which would have tied that record.

Ice-out on Lake Minnetonka is "is a highly anticipated event," said Freshwater spokesman Chris O'Brien, who joined the water patrol for an excursion Monday.

In a typical winter, Lake Minnetonka would hold onto its ice cover until April 13, the average ice-out date based on records dating to 1855. Last year it happened on April 19. The latest was May 5, 2018, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources..

This report includes material from staff writer Tim Harlow.