May 2, 2020: Satellite Saturday Plus

It’s cold again, but we have a strong wind. With the lake partly open, windy conditions have the potential to destroy ice wholesale, but this spring is being weird. There’s snow in the forecast tonight, and near-freezing overnight lows forecast for half the week. To be honest, I don’t know what to make of it.

Let’s do the satellite thing to try and get some perspective. An ‘overview’ if you will.

It’s been cloudy, so I can’t use images from May 2nd or even May 1st; the most recent good pictures were from April 30th.  My first thought was to compare those to April 30th of last year, but no such luck; it was cloudy at the end of April last year. Moving back another year to April 30th of 2018? Score! Clear shots. Here’s why it makes sense to compare this year to that one. 2018, 2019 and 2020 were late starting thaws in cold spring weather. The ice cleared fairly rapidly in both 2018 and 2019, with the lake going ice-free on May 14th both years. This year we got an even later start, courtesy of some nasty cold April weather, but given that the ice was not that thick, Sean and I both thought we could catch up and completely thaw the lake by about the 14th.

These are false-colour images: the brighter the blue, the thicker the ice, and open water is black. These pictures are not zoomable: this is all the resolution there is.

However, if you click on the top picture, you’ll see an archive image with some landmarks labelled to help you get oriented. Pay no attention to the ice cover in that file photo.

Okay, let’s look at the pictures:

2018 False-colour image from April 30th. MODIS camera on NASA’s Terra satellite.

2020 False colour image from April 30th. MODIS camera on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

Well, huh. Aside from the fact that this year’s image is sharper (they vary) it’s pretty clear that we have less ice this year than two years ago on the same date.

It looks as if large parts of cottage country have open water already, and once we reach this stage, the rest of the lake is not usually far behind.

If we had a decent weather forecast, I’d be confident that the lake was going to be ice-free earlier than the 14th. However, we have several days of unseasonably cold temperatures coming up. I just don’t know.

I haven’t been able to cover the Sioux Narrows area this year. Ordinarily, I’d make a little detour on the way home from Dryden now and then, but the pandemic has grounded me this spring, so I couldn’t do that.

I was happy to receive this picture from Tony Lord this evening.

Regina Bay – Sioux Narrows. Taken just south of Crystal Harbour and looking East. The island in the foreground is Kennard Island.

Tony says: Ice at our dock was up to 8” thick in places but breaking up on Thursday morning with sections of open water. By Friday afternoon the majority of the bay that we can see is open except a stretch immediately North (left) of Kennard Island.

Thanks, Tony.

Okay, now we have to talk about the pandemic restrictions. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that some businesses will be able to open soon, with restrictions.

For instance, marinas will  be allowed to put boats in the water. BUT! That doesn’t mean you can go boating. The marinas aren’t going to be open to the public, and the boats have to stay tied to a dock. They’re just being allowed to catch up on a backlog of launching boats. Actually letting people take their boat will have to wait.

Here’s a link to the full Kenora Online article on this story.


4 thoughts on “May 2, 2020: Satellite Saturday Plus

  1. Received word today at 9 am that Clearwaterbay was fully open from a friend that lives there year round


  2. I do believe ice is gone at LOW.
    [Minnie was observing from the south west shore near Warroad- Tim]

  3. Does this mean projections could be pushed back to may 20 for complete ice free conditions and do restrictions mean if you have a private dock you can not use your boat and go out on the lake

    • No, don’t worry about the ice-out shifting that much. If anything, I’m leaning towards it happening before the 14th, not after. If you have your own dock, you can use your boat, but you may not be able to gas up at a marina.

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