April 9, 2018: So Much Ice

I didn’t have the opportunity to head very far out over the lake today, but I didn’t need to.

Ice. Ice everywhere.

This first picture gives an overview.

Looking west: Longbow Lake dominates the foreground of this picture, with Pine Portage Bay and Sultana Island behind it.  Blindfold Lake is at the left edge. Zoom in to look closely at Bigstone Bay, and you’ll realize those gray patches are not slush, they’re just cloud shadows.

Let’s move a little closer to town.

Nanton’s Island and Lunny’s Island are the pair at the bottom left edge, then Town Island above and to the right of them. Keewatin Channel is in the center of this photograph, and the open water there still doesn’t connect to Safety Bay. In an average year, it would.

Zoom in, and you can see there’s a lot of new ice on Safety Bay. I am dismayed at how much has refrozen, and at how thick that fresh ice looks. It’s not just a thin skin.

After I turned back to the airport, I got a better look at Longbow. Like all the local lakes, it’s frozen from shore to shore.

Overall, there’s been no progress now for about three weeks. In fact, April has been so cold that we’ve made new ice where the water was open in March, so we’re actually moving backwards.

Worse, the forecast for the rest of April is for below-normal temperatures. We will see afternoon highs above freezing, but a normal high this time of year is more like 9°C, and there’s not one day forecast to hit that mark in the next two weeks.

While some ice will melt in the next while, we’ll have to catch up on thawing the new ice before we start making progress on the old stuff. And I’m still hearing reports from ice fishers that they’re bottoming out their augers on strong winter ice.

How bad could it be? My photographic records go back to 2003, and 2014 was the worst year I have in my archives. That year, the last ice on Lake of the Woods didn’t go until May 21. It was a spring so bad I didn’t start posting pictures until mid-April.

By the end of this week, we should be able to make direct comparisons to photographs from April 13, 2014. Here’s the ugly part. I’ve been looking at those pictures. We need to make some progress this week to match them.


5 thoughts on “April 9, 2018: So Much Ice

    • I don’t know, Gerry. This is starting to look like uncharted territory. I don’t know how fast the ice goes if the thaw starts so late.

  1. Thanks for your reports, just got back from a winter trip to our island cabin in whitefish bay, ice fishing for trout, caught our trout but the ice was to the bottom of the auger, 3 feet, next trip will be boat sometime, hope it is by memorial weekend. I met your wife at the Clarion, had some legal work that I took care of in the end of Feb, and I mentioned that I look at your ice report and that you are an author and she said,” that is my husband” small world. I flew my aztec into Sioux Narrows for 25 years, but just sold it last summer and miss it dearly. Watching your report. Mel

  2. I have been recording ice out from my vantage point since we moved to Bigstone Bay in 1986. We are on storm bay Rd looking south at Hay Island across the bay. My notes show the latest ice free date as May 25, 1996. I think this year will have the dubious distinction of matching if not surpassing that date. On the up side we might still be able to ice fish when the season opens again. Grrrrrr…..in and bear it.

    • Bigstone Bay is a great place to observe, because it is one of the last bays on LotW to clear. In 1996, I was flying over the lake and passing verbal reports to friends with camps, but I did not have a digital camera.

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