Bill and Kerry recently asked for an update on the Winnipeg River, which worked out well. My flight brought me back to Kenora from the north today, and Andy and I were able to swing slightly west of Kenora to set up for runway 08. That took us right down the river as we descended from our cruising altitude.
To be clear, I cannot usually accommodate requests. Walsten Air works hard at supporting my hobby, often assigning me trips or training flights that work in Ice Patrol’s favour, but at the end of the day, I go where I’m paid to go, give or take some discretion about how I approach the airport.
We began taking pictures at the south end of Big Sand Lake, which is still mostly frozen.
Click on these pictures to zoom see a larger version. Click on that to zoom in.
Don’t let this picture fool you; the afternoon sun is shining on ripples in the water, and it resembles white ice. Look closer. In the foreground, there’s ice in Tunnel Bay, but the whole Big Stretch is open water.
The pattern is pretty clear. Wherever the water is flowing, the ice is melting. Quiet bays are still frozen.
My marine chart of the river doesn’t provide names for all the islands in the picture above. Fiddler’s Island is right under the nose of the King Air. Darlington Bay and Keewatin are visible in the middle distance. Kenora is at the extreme left, by the windshield wiper.
We got one last picture just before we made our turn over Kenora to approach the airport. Wind and warm temperatures are working hard to expand the areas of open water near town. On the other hand, further out, in places where the ice cover is unbroken, it’s only weakening slowly.
We now have more open water than we had on this date in 2016 or 2015. In fact, this time last year we were having a cold snap, with wind chills equivalent to -21ºC, and actual temperatures stubbornly sitting below freezing. Even so, we saw the lake completely clear of ice on May 4th. You can use the Archive Widget to see my April reports from 2014, 2015, or 2016. (That’s assuming you’re looking at the full website, not an email bulletin or a mobile version.)
Barring a really cold snap, we should see the ice go rapidly over the next ten or fifteen days. A couple of weeks ago, I would have said Lake of the Woods might be ice free around May 7th. Looking at the forecast today, I would guess closer to May 1st, perhaps earlier if our luck holds.