There’s no ducking it; it’s been horribly cold. I went for a walk on Saturday morning and the wind chill was -21°C. Sunday, older and wiser, I waited until mid-afternoon, when it improved a little. But only a little, the wind chill was still -14°C. It’s important to remember, though, that while wind chill makes it feel miserable, only the true temperature really matters when it comes to making ice. In fact, you’d get more water freezing at -10°C if there was no wind at all.
As you’ve probably realized by now, I’m softening you up for some bad news. It’s been a week since I last updated the Ice Patrol, and there’s been very little change.
Here’s what the north end of Lake of the Woods looks like as you approach from the East.
That’s Longbow in the foreground, right of center. Towards the left, you can see Bigstone Bay, Hay Island and the Barrier Islands. It’s pretty much all frozen, and covered in lovely fresh white snow that repels the heat of the sun. One ray of hope, although it’s difficult to see in this picture, the patch of open water out between Allie Island and Shammis Island has grown a bit larger.
Click on these pictures to see a larger version. Click on that to zoom right in.
Let’s move a little closer, so that we can see more detail. These pictures are in sequence, so each one shows what was in the background of the one before.
At the bottom of this photograph is Thunder Bay, home of Smith Camps. Wrapping around behind it is Pine Portage Bay, with the docks of Northern Harbour just above the shiny propeller spinner. Frozen solid, all of it. But there’s something grey in the distance, between Scotty Island and Town Island.
This isn’t much of an improvement over last week, but it looks as if the ice is cracking out by Town Island.
We’ve swung north now, so this shot shows the Keewatin Bridge just above the center. It looks as if you might be able to thread a kayak past the Yacht Club and get as far as Shragge’s Island. That wasn’t the case last week.
We’ve moved closer to the Keewatin and Norman waterfronts now. Maybe the way the water is spreading out between Cameron Island and Coney Island is new too. It’s not much, but it’s something.
Lastly, a look at Devil’s Gap. The gap is significant, because it’s usually the second waterway to open up near town.
The easiest way to get a photo of Devil’s Gap was to shoot out of the side window. There’s not much progress through the gap. I was hoping the water would reach Gun Club Island by now, but it does not.
All in all, a miserable showing, but it’s been cold. Remember those crazy mild days in March? It’s going to be the second half of April before we see temperatures like that again. There’s no longer any hope of a thaw before late April, and I think we now need a run of weather that is both warm and windy to get the lake clear by the end of the month.
To back up that impression, I just checked back at photographs taken this time last year. 2015 was a typical thaw, with the last of the ice gone on May 3rd. I took pictures on April 7th, 2015, and they looked very much the same as today’s. Click the date, if you want to see for yourself.