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.