Over the last few weeks, I have received quite a few notifications as new people signed up to follow Ice Patrol, and I notice website traffic is up recently, too. So I offer warm greetings to both old friends and new acquaintances. Welcome to Ice Patrol 2017.
We had some record-breaking warm daytime high temperatures in Kenora this February, and even one or two nights where the temperature stayed above freezing. A similar thing happened last year, and I jumped to the conclusion that we’d have an early thaw, and fired up the Ice Patrol early.
I got schooled. Last year, after that false start, spring temperatures plummeted back down and stayed miserably cold for weeks. I ended up doing a lot of extra flights with little to report. This year, I won’t try to jump the gun. I regard the recent mild spell as something of a fluke, and sure enough, it all refroze stronger than ever.
One ice-fisher reported to me that he had drilled through about 20″ of ice before the warm weather melted the snow cover and formed a layer of water and slush. When temperatures returned to normal, all that slop froze solid, and now there’s well over two feet of clear blue ice, at least where he was checking.
That sounds depressing, but it’s not really a bad thing. Getting rid of the snow is a basic first step in the annual thaw. We’ve had a fresh layer of snow since then, but it’s thin.
Here’s what Lake of the Woods looks like to the MODIS camera on the Terra satellite, as of February 28th.
Fun fact: that’s a colour photo; there’s just not much colour in our landscape right now.
There’s more mild weather coming soon, and I’ll have some good opportunities for Ice Patrol flights before mid-March. We’ll take a closer look then.