When is it legal to walk on frozen lakes in Denmark?

Police across Denmark intervened in several instances over the weekend as members of the public endangered themselves by walking on to frozen lakes.

When is it legal to walk on frozen lakes in Denmark?
Copenhagen on February 5th. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

Lakes, fjords and other waterways in Denmark should be considered off-limits for walking or skating unless signs clearly mark that it is safe to do so. That is not the case in many places, despite the current sub-zero weather.

In Copenhagen, 18 people were charged last weekend after breaching rules to walk on frozen lakes, police said.

“I hope what was communicated today has helped so that residents in Copenhagen have had their eyes opened to that fact (walking on frozen lakes) can be dangerous,” Paw Kaltoft of Copenhagen Police told news wire Ritzau.

“I don’t know of anyone in Copenhagen who has fallen through the ice. But it has happened in other places,” he said on Saturday evening.

That includes three people who fell through ice on the island of Mors in North Jutland, and an incident on Zealand which required a helicopter rescue, the news agency reports.

News broadcaster TV2 reported that police had charged individuals with trespassing on the ice.

According to Danish law, individual municipalities decide when ice is thick enough for the public to be allowed to walk on it.

Although rules can therefore vary locally, the ice must generally be at least 13 centimetres thick. In Aarhus, the ice layer must be 16 centimetres, according to Ritzau.

READ ALSO: Arctic sea ice melting faster than forecast, Copenhagen researchers find

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How much will it snow in Denmark this weekend?

Winter weather arrived in spectacular fashion to coincide with the beginning of December this week. The weekend could bring more snow to parts of the country but probably less disruption than recent days.

Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December.
Parts of Denmark have seen heavy snow in early December. Photo: Bo Amstrup/Ritzau Scanpix

Recent snowstorms disrupted North Jutland in particular and Denmark in general, and more cold weather can be expected this weekend albeit severe, according to forecasts.

“We won’t see the Ragnarok-like weather we’ve seen in some places recently again this weekend, but it’s now winter weather and it has also snowed in several places overnight,” said meteorologist Frank Nielsen of the Danish Meteorological Institute (DMI).

READ ALSO: IN PICTURES: Early December blizzards disrupt Denmark

Cold weather on Friday and a low front across the North Sea will bring clouds and precipitation across Denmark from the west, Nielsen said.

That will materialise as cold rain or sleet in many areas but probably snow in North Jutland, he said.

“There could be between five and ten centimetres of snow north of the Limfjord,” the meteorologist said, referring to the waterway that cuts across the northern part of Jutland, including main regional city Aalborg.

“In the southern part of the country, an equivalent five to ten centimetres of rain could fall,” he added.

Friday’s temperature will be between freezing point and five degrees Celsius, with the north of the country falling in to the lower end of that range and the south the warmer end.

Mist and fog is forecast this evening, caused by various weather fronts moving over Denmark.

That could still be felt on Saturday morning, though it is likely to be a little warmer at 2-6 degrees Celsius. Mild winds could make that fell chiller, but snow is unlikely.

Sunday will see the temperature drop again, to 0-4 degrees Celsisu. Snow is possible, particularly on eastern coasts.

Strong winds in the east of the country and along the coasts will result in a “rather cold 24 hours,” Nielsen said.

Nighttime temperatures are expected to drop below zero throughout the weekend. Motorists are therefore warned to be alert to icy road surfaces.