March 25, 2020: No more flights

I’m sorry to tell you that I will not be flying during this year’s thaw. The company has no clients actively flying or likely to book trips in the next several weeks, so temporary layoff notices have been sent out. I do not expect to fly again until summer. Training flights have been cancelled. We have one crew available in case something comes up.

I could try to do a post once a week or so, with satellite imagery and graphs, but I won’t be able to observe or comment on the stage by stage developments on the lake.

On the bright side, the spring will come whether I document it or not. The Canada geese are back now, and the hardy goldeneye ducks have been around for weeks.

Sean sent me a couple of graphs the other day. Now seems like a good time to put them up.

2020 Year by Year

On this graph, cold temperatures drive the winter spikes downward, so that a long cold winter has a deeper and wider profile than a mild one. Last winter, looking unfinished at the right side of the graph, seems to be one of the milder ones. Sean uses this data to guess at the overall ice thickness. Then, once our temperatures are above freezing, he makes an estimate of how many warm days it will take to melt it all.

For a different way of comparing the winter to previous ones, he produces this graph:2020 Year Comparison

Each winter gets its own coloured line, tracking a simple points system: each day, the mean daily temperature moves the line down that much. If the daily mean temp is -10ºC, the line drops ten points. This year is the fat dashed line, and if temperatures level off the way Sean extrapolated, we can see that recently there have been six longer, colder winters, and just three milder ones.

That’s all for now. Stay well.



23 thoughts on “March 25, 2020: No more flights

  1. Thank you so much for your amazingly informative posts every spring. You are as sure a sign of summer as the Canada Geese we welcome each spring. You have been an amazing source of information and I will miss your posts. I hope you find something equally amazing to do with all the time you are sure to now have. Gratefully, Jennifer Fast

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Sorry to hear that, Tim. I looked forward to this all winter. Oh well. Hope you’re OK anyway. Cheers.

  3. Sorry to hear about the layoffs, I can definitely relate.
    Thank you for all the updates over the years and I look forward to seeing more next spring.
    Stay safe.

  4. Ya, sad, It is, what it is. You stay healthy. Do you have a Wind Glider?
    Perhaps we shall see you in the sky, one way or another.
    Thank you.

  5. That is sad for all of us,but many thanks for all your messages over the years..
    they have been a welcome mark of springs return.

  6. So sorry. You have such a fan base but we all understand and sympathize and empathize. Until we meet again!

  7. We won’t likely be able to go out to the lake too quickly if at all anyway. But your posts will be a welcome distraction

    Karen M (Larson) Loewen
    Sent from my iPhone


  8. We will miss our yearly spring tradition of following the Ice Pilot. Stay safe.
    Mike and Jan
    Middle Island

  9. I look forward to your posts in future .. They’ve been great !! You too keep well. Best wishes from Wpg

  10. Dear Captain Tim, your last post was a weighty read but alas a sign of the current challenges. As a follower of several years, I consider your work philanthropic (informationally & psychologically) for all us Lakers. I hope to find a creative way to pay you back a little for all that I have enjoyed (spike in book sales or perhaps some stain for the new stairs 😀).

  11. We are SO sorry as we looked forward to your daily updates. Worse than not having updates is our concern for you and your family. hopefully there will be opportunities after this covid-19 crisis subsides. If there is any way we could be of help, we have family in Kenora and are seasonal residents ourselves. Take care and be safe! Al & Virginia Snyder

  12. I’m doing an amateur version for my family who have cottages on Treaty island-

    Gr8uncle ice report. Pic from Discovery ctre was Monday, our bay now. Forecast all + temperatures for a week.

    Sent from my iPhone


  13. Maybe we could start a membership with a small fee and raise enough money to lease a plane for U?

    Just thinking you probably have a large devoted fan base.

    If are able to make the occasional post — call on your viewers -I am sure there
    wud be 100’s willing to post photos from the cabin, views from high spots, maybe even some drone shots.
    Take care — all the best.

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