May 26, 2021: 80 Days of April

I’ve been meaning to do a wrap-up post for this spring, as it was an odd one: although we had our first April-like temperatures way back on March 4, we’ve been in a kind of limbo ever since, with those same April conditions persisting well into May. Last week we finally got some warm temperatures, but this morning it dipped to freezing and snowed.

I’d like to show you the final graphs for the year.

First the simple Brick Graph.

The 2021 brick gets added to the April 21-25 stack.

You can click on these graphs to see them full-screen size.

Then the slightly more informative Pancake Graph.

This shows how agonizingly gradual this year’s thaw was compared to other years. It appears to be the slowest in my records by a wide margin.

This is partly a matter of definition, because this graph starts the clock when the mean daily temperature goes above freezing on a lasting basis. That began on March 4, but temperatures averaged out to just barely above freezing for weeks.

In a year with strong currents in the lake, ice might have continued to erode steadily despite wishy-washy temperatures, but lake levels were on the low side, and the Lake of the Woods Control Board restricted flow through the Norman Dam  to keep them from dropping further. That meant less current, so the channels and narrows that usually open up early kept their ice for quite a long time.

Sean Cockrem sent me an enhanced version of his Cumulative Temperature Graph, which I cheerfully refer to as the Shark Fin Graph.

Sean has enlarged this graph so that you can see more detail. It’s well worth clicking on it to zoom in.

To recap: long winters are wide. Cold winters are deep. Sean uses that to determine whether the ice is likely to be thick or thin, and then estimates how much heat will be needed to melt it all. He assigns a point value to that, and uses the weather forecast to try and guess when that score might be reached.

But just in case you’re feeling lazy, let me show you a close-up of the last two years:

 

The first thing I notice when I compare the two winters on this section is that last winter was both shorter and milder than the one before. An interesting detail is the difference in the tiny sections between the blue X and the red dot. This represents the entire thaw from inflection point to ice-free. In the spring of 2020, we had a short steep path from one to the other. Once it (belatedly) started to warm up, it got rapidly warmer, and the lake ice was gone in about three weeks. This year was very different. From that early start on March 4th, the line staggers along—dipping below freezing at first—for over seven weeks before all the ice is finally gone.

That’s it for this year.  Here’s hoping the weather picks up and the pandemic dies down.

9 thoughts on “May 26, 2021: 80 Days of April

  1. Tyvm for the great work n effort you put into this site..I always appreciate it n motivates me to see how close we are to being at our island every year on the most beautiful lake in the world..bias perhaps 😎

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  2. Always have a keen eye for your updates on ice conditions and other tidbits on the LOW area. Thanks to all your contributors as well for the effort they put in on our behalf.
    Lorraine and Len at Deacon Lake

  3. Thanks for another great year! Have a great summer

    Glen Grist, MBA

    email: glen.grist@gmail.com Telephone: 204.489.2102 (home) 204.290.7711 (mobile)

    On Wed, May 26, 2021 at 3:20 PM Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol wrote:

    > icecaptain posted: “I’ve been meaning to do a wrap-up post for this > spring, as it was an odd one: although we had our first April-like > temperatures way back on March 4, we’ve been in a kind of limbo ever since, > with those same April conditions persisting well into May. Last ” >

  4. Thanks so much for all of your efforts – very much appreciated. Let’s hope that 2022 will have a similar early break up and that Manitobans with cottages in NW Ontario can get out and enjoy a more normal spring.

    Cheers!

    Grant Platts

  5. Thank you ice-captain for another good (but unusual) year. We just arrived on Middle Island for another summer. Mike and Jan Riley

    On Wed, May 26, 2021, 3:21 PM Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol, wrote:

    > icecaptain posted: “I’ve been meaning to do a wrap-up post for this > spring, as it was an odd one: although we had our first April-like > temperatures way back on March 4, we’ve been in a kind of limbo ever since, > with those same April conditions persisting well into May. Last ” >

  6. Thank you icecaptain for all your hard work. Keeps me informed while I am in Florida awaiting my early fishing trip to Canada.

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