Let’s face it: this blog is not about who or what or how, and where is right in the title. This blog is about when. When should I put my boat in the water? When should I head for Kenora? When can I get to my camp?
The safe answer is May 1st, give or take three weeks. That always works. Until last year. Last year was extraordinary. Last year was awful!
Relax. This isn’t going to be like last year. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I do have stacks of old photographs. Let’s look back at some previous years and compare pictures taken on or about April 25th.
I don’t have matching pictures of the same area from each year, but I’ll try to use pictures of downtown or Devil’s Gap.
We’ll start with a picture from April 24th of this year, for reference.
Devil’s Gap has opened up to Galt Island and Rogers Island. In the background, you can see that Jackfish Bay is nearly open and Safety Bay is all water.
As usual, you can click on these pictures to see a larger version that reveals more detail. Image quality is a little poorer on some of the older photographs.
Let’s get 2014 out of the way. Here’s a picture from April 25th of last year.
Had you forgotten? I don’t blame you for trying, but I’m here to make you relive that misery for a moment! Ice-out was May 21st or 22nd.
Well, what about 2013?
2013 wasn’t great either. The ice went suddenly on May 14th, due to high winds.
2012 was one of the really early years – I have no pictures taken after mid-April.
There was no ice by April 25th of 2012. It went just days after this picture was taken, probably by April 16th or so.
Aha! Water through Devil’s Gap to the south side of Rogers Island, water reaching Town Island. Safety Bay open, Jackfish Bay going fast. Late April of 2011 looked a lot like late April this year.
So when did the ice go out in 2011? It was almost all gone by May 2nd. Back at the beginning of this year’s thaw, I said I thought we’d have a normal year, with the ice going at the beginning of May. I’ve been secretly leaning towards Cinco de Mayo, and I’m growing more confident. A return to warmer weather is on the way.
May 5th. That’s my guess for an ice-free Lake of the Woods this year. What’s yours?