March 3, 2015: Is it Spring yet?

No, it certainly is not. For those of you who are checking on Lake of the Woods from far away, we had a very cold February. March is supposed to be milder, of course, but above freezing temperatures are not forecast until later in the month.

I don’t usually start taking pictures of the ice until late March; this post is basically a test run. One reason is that the site is still getting about fifty hits a day, and I think maybe people are anxious to see 2015 news. I have some.

I hope to enhance the coverage this year. I think I’ve tapped into a pool of pilots who may be willing to help, and if that works out, I may be able to offer pictures more often. I might even be able to cover a slightly wider area, perhaps as far as Falcon Lake and West Hawk. If you are a pilot who would enjoy contributing by overflying the Lake of the Woods area and emailing me some pictures, please contact me here for more information. There’s no money in it, but pilots and photographers will receive attribution if their pictures are used. Low flying is neither required nor encouraged. A basic digital camera or smartphone will do, but bring a passenger to do the photography: it’s safer, and you get better pictures.

One other piece of news: I have permission from the University of Wisconsin to publish their satellite pictures here on Ice Patrol. The photographs, taken with the MODIS cameras aboard the Terra and Aqua satellites, have a resolution of one pixel for 250 meters. That means small islands are not visible, and Kenora is hard to spot. Don’t expect to see your cottage! The pictures can show the changing colour of the ice and large patches of open water. But not yet.

Today was cloudy when the satellites went over, but here is yesterday’s shot from Aqua. All that white stuff is ice. This is a colour photograph, believe it or not!

I did have a training flight today, so I snapped one picture of Safety Bay.

Rat Portage Bay and Safety Bay from the south. Keewatin is left of center, Kenora at the right, behind the wingtip.

Rat Portage Bay and Safety Bay from the south. Keewatin is left of center, Kenora at the right, behind the wingtip.

You can click on this picture to view it in full resolution. As you can see, there are only tiny patches of open water where the current is strongest, such as near the hospital. Safety Bay will melt first.

Trivia bit: when the water-bomber pilots in Dryden are looking for open water to do their spring training, they often fly over to Kenora to use the  ice-free water along Safety Bay. It thaws earlier than almost any other long stretch of water in the region.

What can we expect this spring? After mild winters, the lake has been known to open as early as mid-April, but I don’t think we’ll be that lucky this year. The beginning of May is more typical. We might manage that. Last year, Lake of the Woods did not fully open until the third week of May, the latest thaw in recent memory. Let’s not do that again.

I expect to commence full and regular coverage sometime in April. If you would like to be notified by email when updates are posted, you can click on the FOLLOW button. If someone writes to me or posts a comment, I might email them, but I do not use the addresses of followers for any other purpose. To quickly find this site from a friend’s computer, it’s simplest to type into the browser.

– Tim Armstrong

7 thoughts on “March 3, 2015: Is it Spring yet?

  1. Hi Tim! Great to see you are back. We want to be on the island the 1st week in May. Can you help? Donna

  2. Thanks Tim, great to see you getting organized and we are excited to track the break up progress with you again this year. Cheers from Coney Island Music Festival ! @ConeyMusicFest

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