May 8, 2020: Sentinel

I often post satellite images from the MODIS cameras on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The University of Wisconsin at Madison posts fresh images every day, and the highest available resolution is 250 metres to a pixel. That means you can see features as small as Kenora’s Round Lake, or Gun Club Island, but they’re just dots.

Today, Hilary Dugan, a limnologist from Madison, sent me a satellite picture of Lake of the Woods taken yesterday by the European Space Agency’s Sentinel-2 satellite. It’s at much higher resolution: 10 metres to a pixel. You can see roads.

Naturally, I was eager to upload this image to Ice Patrol, but I cannot: it’s too big! It’s about forty times the size of my average photo. It would take all night to upload, and it would pretty much wipe out my remaining storage space at WordPress. So I can’t show you the whole lake at maximum detail. But I can show you the bit with ice remaining on it.

You should absolutely click on this picture to see it full-screen, and then click again to zoom it to the full resolution.

The last two patches of ice on Lake of the Woods.

At the top right corner of the frame is Northern Harbour. The ice on Bigstone Bay is clearly visible between Heenan Point on the mainland and Needle Point on Hay Island. You can even see  remnants of the ice roads. The pale blotches over and around Sultana Island are clouds. I’m less sure of the pale patch south of Copper Island. I’m leaning towards cloud for that one.

At the bottom of the picture, the large island is Ferrier. The remaining patch of ice is within a triangle tipped by Robertson Island to the north west, Whiteout Island to the south west, and Craig Island to the east. This is the same patch of ice identified by Josh Broten a few days ago. At that time, he described it as being near Brittania Island, Cintiss Island and Gill Island, so it’s a lot smaller now.

Aside from the impracticality due to the size of the images this satellite produces, there’s another disadvantage: the Sentinel system doesn’t attempt to image Lake of the Woods very often. Subtract the cloudy days, and several weeks can go by without a picture. The timing on this one was great, but Sentinel images aren’t going to be a regular feature on Satellite Saturdays.

Hilary sent me a reduced image that shows the whole lake, but at a more manageable file size. It’s not as detailed as the section above, but you can see everything including Shoal Lake. Thanks, Hilary.

Lake of the Woods, May 7, 2020.

Speaking of Shoal Lake, the ice patch there is much larger than anything on Lake of the Woods, and will last a few days longer. This has happened every spring I can remember, except last year, when Shoal Lake cleared a few days before LotW.

On another topic, Peg from Texas wrote to ask how we’re making out with the pandemic, and what it’s like here. First off, the best place I’ve found to get updates is KenoraOnline’s COVID-19 Info page. It covers topics as local as what’s going on at the hospital (elective surgery might resume in a while), ranging up to announcements from Ontario’s Premier, Doug Ford. Recently, he rejected requests that the province phase in re-opening on a region-by-region basis.

I’ll add some first-hand perspective that might be hard to pick out of the official news.

Restaurants and Bars: Unlike Manitoba, restaurants are not open, not even patios.  SOME restaurants are offering delivery or take-out, and of those, some are only doing it for limited hours, or a few days a week. Bars and lounges are closed. Non-essential businesses are closed.

Groceries: Keewatin Place was closed last time I checked. Correction: Keewatin Place is taking orders through their website and offering curbside pick-up. Safeway, No-Frills, the Wholesale Club, Wal-Mart, and the LCBO are still restricting the number of customers in the store: you have to line up outside to get in. You’re supposed to send one shopper for family, so there are very few children in the stores. One-way arrows assist physical distancing by limiting the number of people you meet coming the other way. Masks are fairly common, but I wouldn’t say they’re in the majority. The temporary arrows at Safeway and Wal-Mart have been replaced my more permanent ones, so I think they’re going to be staying. On the other hand, some of the barricades that turned the stores into a maze have been removed, allowing a little more freedom of movement.

Until now, hardware stores have not been open, but you could phone in an order, pay in advance and wait outside to pick it up. That may change soon. To quote from a news item about easing Ontario’s restrictions on KenoraOnline,  “Hardware stores and safety supply stores will be permitted to open for in-store payment and purchases as soon as Saturday, May 9. On Monday, May 11 retail stores with a street entrance can begin offering curbside pickup and delivery…”

Of course, it may take some time to get everything ready and up to the required standards.

Greenhouses can open, but Debbie’s Greenhouse is not open yet. According to their website, they’ll open when they’re ready to do it safely, and an announcement about the timing of that could come on Monday, May 11th.

I can’t make this a more comprehensive list, because I haven’t been out much. Hopefully, it will give an idea.

6 thoughts on “May 8, 2020: Sentinel

  1. Thanks for the photo. Can’t believe the resolution. I can see the roof of my cottage when I zoom in. It is on Dominique Island in Shoal Lake right on the edge of the remaining ice flow. You can even see some ice left in the bays of the island.

  2. Ohhh wow this is amazing I wish I could decifer it more ..but I thought the ice was clouds also…oh well silly me……I still love all of it i hope all this knowledge is shared with higher education…good to see no smoke from early season man made fires

  3. First what an amazing photo!!!
    Second a correction Keewatin Place is taking orders at info@keewatinplace.com, more info their Facebook page. Place order and they will have ready for curbside pickup. Great service.

  4. Hi Tim, Thanks again for all the work you and your contributors have done this year, it’s greatly appreciated!!! It’s been a great diversion this spring Hope your back in the air soon!

    Regards, Geoff Stevenson

    On Fri, May 8, 2020 at 9:26 PM Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol wrote:

    > icecaptain posted: “I often post satellite images from the MODIS cameras > on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites. The University of Wisconsin at Madison > posts fresh images every day, and the highest available resolution is 250 > metres to a pixel. That means you can see features a” >

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