I just spent some time reviewing and organizing my Ice Patrol photo archives, so this seems like a good time to compare this year to previous thaws. I got my first digital camera in 2003, and quickly realized I could use it to show my friends what the ice was doing on Lake of the Woods. In those days, my attention was on one or two specific camps, so I did not document the entire thaw. This is one reason that the Previous Years links on this blog only go back to 2009. But here is what I learned looking back at some of those albums:
2003: Only thin pans of ice remained near town by May 1. I took no pictures after this date, so the ice was gone soon after.
2004: The ice was all gone by April 30.
2005: Took my last pictures on April 18. There were still ice pans, but the lake was probably clear within a week of that date.
2006: The lake was half open by April 13. Almost certainly clear before May first, but I have no later pictures.
2007: Very thin ice remained on April 25. Gone by the first of May, give or take a day or two.
2008: Extensive soft ice remained on May 7. Likely gone by mid May.
2009: By May 4, the only ice pans left were the remnants of the ice roads. Gone within days. See a sample picture.
2010: Took my last pictures on April 10. The ice was going fast. See a picture of Kenora from that archive.
2011: By May 2, only breaking pans remained, mostly further from town. See what I mean.
2012: Last ice disappearing by April 13. Here’s what Northern Harbour looked like on that date.
2013: Strong winds on May 14 savaged the last surviving pans. All gone the next day.
So what about this year? We are looking at one of the late thaws, possibly the latest of them all. Next week, if the skies are clear, I’ll try to get a photograph from up high, to show more of the lake. I expect this will still include a vast expanse of ice. Be strong, lake dwellers.
Please allow me to say a few words about how popular Ice Patrol is becoming. Thanks to websites like Walleye Central and the Manitoba Fishing Forum posting links, traffic is up. Grace Protopapas at Q104, Ted Burton at 89.5 The Lake, and Reg Clayton of the Kenora Daily Miner and News all helped with interviews and web referrals. Many local FaceBook users and some Twitter friends (I am @timothygwyn) helped to spread the word. Most of those organizations I have listed as Lake of the Woods Links not only share a love of our lake, but have helped to spread word of the Ice Patrol, too. The net result of all this support is over 2000 hits a day lately and still climbing. Thank you.