Several vehicles were spotted on the frozen Geneva Lake near the lakefront area of Lake Geneva, Feb. 18. City officials said Lake Geneva currently does not have an ordinance regarding people parking their vehicles on the lake. Five years ago, during Winterfest, several cars that were parked on the lake fell through the ice.
DNR Warden Jason Roberts said some municipalities have weight limits on what vehicles can drive onto lakes. But Geneva Lake does not, he said, and there is no state law with lake weight limits. Delavan has set a 2,000 pound weight limit for Delavan Lake, which means no cars are able to drive on the lake, Roberts said.
Roberts said if your car goes through the ice, state law does require you to get it out. “That can be very expensive,” Roberts said.
While there is no state weight limit, he said, “People use their best judgement.” He said people need to be careful. Even if they think the ice is thick enough, it can be thin in inlets or outlets and it can be compromised as the temperature changes, freezing and unfreezing the ice.
People need to be careful parking near the edge of the lake because the ice melts near the edge first. In addition road salt can contribute to the melted ice.
Five years ago, when Lake Geneva gained national attention after cars broke through during Winterfest, one of the other problems was how close the cars parked together.
“It was a parking lot out there. That is a whole lot of weight in a small area,” Robert said. Cars need to spread out. “It makes common sense,” he said.
But he said people need to always use caution. “No ice is safe … People certainly take risks, but ice is so variable in its condition.”