April 25, 2015: When?

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 and downtown Kenora, April 24th, 2015

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.


Downtown Kenora, April 25th, 2014

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?


Coney Island and downtown Kenora, April 22nd, 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.


Galt and Gordon Islands, Devil’s Gap April 14, 2012

There was no ice by April 25th of 2012. It went just days after this picture was taken, probably by April 16th or so.



Town Island, Devil’s Gap, April 27, 2011

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?

5 thoughts on “April 25, 2015: When?

  1. I love your blog, thank you for keeping us updated. I am from Nestor Falls, Sioux Narrows area so your blog also helps us to know what to expect.

  2. May 1st….as long as we can get to Leisure Island ,Devils Gap past Galt Island then to Leisure Island. Snow forecast for Saskatoon..wow. fly safe!

  3. Is there a pattern with certain parts of the lake melting faster than others? .e.g as per my question on Clearwater, is it later than other areas due to deeper wather, or not? Love your site by the way. Great fun every spring. I found a link on lake ice melting process people may be interested in.
    How Lake Ice Melts
    A wonderful description of how lake ice melts away appeared on the web blog “Air Mass”, hosted by the Star Tribune’s Bill McAuliffe. Ed Swain, of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency describes the process of freezing and thawing lakes.
    In the late fall, the lake loses heat to the atmosphere, and then on a day or night when the wind is not blowing, ice forms. The ice gets thicker as long as the lake can continue to lose heat.
    In most Januaries and Februaries, snow both reflects sunlight and insulates the lake. With a thick snow layer, the lake neither gains nor loses heat. The bottom sediment is actually heating the lake water slightly over the winter, from stored summer heat.
    Around March, as the air warms and the sun gets more intense, the snow melts, allowing light to penetrate the ice. Because the ice acts like the glass in a greenhouse, the water beneath it begins to warm, and the ice begins to melt FROM THE BOTTOM.
    When the ice thickness erodes to between 4 and 12 inches, it transforms into long vertical crystals called “candles.” These conduct light even better, so the ice starts to look black, because it is not reflecting much sunlight.
    Warming continues because the light energy is being transferred to the water below the ice. Meltwater fills in between the crystals, which begin breaking apart. The surface appears grayish as the ice reflects a bit more light than before.
    The wind comes up, and breaks the surface apart. The candles will often be blown to one side of the lake, making a tinkling sound as they knock against one another, and piling up on the shore. In hours, a sparkling blue lake, once again!

    Last modified: March 18, 2008For more information contact: climate@umn.edu

  4. Andrew, thanks for taking the the time, photographs and effort in keeping us ground-bound types informed. Much appreciated!!

    Ron Neufeld


  5. Thanks for the great pictures and information 👍 Keep up the great work and be safe up there ✈️

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