People have been asking me how this year is shaping up compared to last year. Fair enough: last year was awful and no one wants to go through that again. I did not photograph the ice in March last year, so it’s hard to do a direct comparison. Things didn’t really start to thaw last spring untiI mid-April, and that’s when I took my first pictures for 2014. This year I started in early March. Do not jump to the conclusion that we are six weeks ahead. Perhaps three or four. I only started so early because I happened to have a convenient flight on a sunny day.
I hope to take new pictures on Saturday, March 14th, and it will be interesting to compare them to last year’s April 14th pictures- I’ll post some links to make that easy to do.
While we’re waiting, let’s look back at some previous years. I have photographs going back to 2003, when I got my first digital camera. You can look at some of these older photos by clicking on the links to Previous Years at the right of this web page (not visible if you are looking at the email version) which will take you to my PhotoBucket albums. Here’s a link to last year’s post that gives more detail about the approximate dates I used. I can take a fairly good guess at when the ice was completely gone each year.
I broke it down into five-day periods to keep the graph simple. Ice-out always happens in April or May, and the most common weeks are the end of April or the beginning of May. Notice that 2014 is way out in right field – last year’s late thaw was an anomaly.
The Weather Network’s long-term forecast is for temperatures to run slightly above normal for the remainder of March. A normal daytime high this time of year is about 0°C and it looks as if we can expect highs above freezing for the next two weeks. Loosely speaking, above normal temperatures mean faster than average thawing. Other helpful weather factors would be rain, to melt the snow cover on the lake ice, then heat. Once the ice starts to go, strong winds can accelerate the break-up.
My guess? Early May. That’s the most common outcome. If we have enough warm weather, we might have a chance at beating May first. Keep in mind that’s for the lake to be completely ice-free. Many lake dwellers will be able to reach camps close to Kenora before the ice is all gone.