All missing people have been accounted for, including four people initially reported missing Tuesday morning, as officials continued rescuing anglers stranded on Lake of the Woods during Sunday’s blizzard, a press release from the Lake of the Woods Sheriff’s Department said.
Sunday’s blizzard included wind gusts of 30-50 mph across the region, which left dozens stranded on Lake of the Woods, where blowing snow blocked roads plowed more than 20 miles onto the lake.
Combined with slush that forms when the weight of snow pushes water up through cracks in the ice, the conditions made efforts to reach snowed-in anglers difficult.
The Sheriff’s Office said some people who called for rescue decided to stay with their vehicles and ice houses after they were told vehicles would not be towed by law enforcement.
A Border Patrol helicopter searched the area again Tuesday for signs of distress, but the release said no one appeared to need assistance during Monday’s air surveillance, and several people were outside their ice houses clearing snow.
Employees from local resorts have been working around the clock since Sunday’s storm to reach stranded anglers, the release said. Adrian’s Resort employees told law enforcement Tuesday morning that two groups of ice houses had not yet been reached with plows, though they planned to continue efforts to reach them. Deputies took to snowmobiles to check on remaining ice houses, the release said.
"It's a real mess," Sheriff Gary Fish told Baudette’s Northern Light Region newspaper Monday, adding he’d flown over the lake in a helicopter brought in to help with search. "The good news is that we're seeing signs of life everywhere. People are out shoveling. No one is running out of the houses waving us down."
Fish also told the newspaper he knew of at least a few plow trucks became stuck in drifted snow and slush on the lake.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Border Patrol assisted the sheriff’s office. Minnesota Power also offered assistance.