There was still some ice on the south end of the lake yesterday, in the vicinity of Oak Island. It may have been wiped out later in the day, but I don’t know for sure, and it might not have been the only patch left, so I’m using May 16th as our official ice-free date for Lake of the Woods this year. I believe Shoal Lake is also clear.
So let’s see how that stacks up.
This year’s brick goes in the previously empty May 16th-20th slot, and shows 2022 as the second latest thaw in my records. It certainly feels like it.
Now let’s see how it looks on the Pancake Graph.
You can click on these to see larger versions with sharper text.
The rapidity of this year’s thaw is not quite as exceptional as I thought. 2020 was two days faster, and 2013 was a match, at nineteen days from Inflection Date to Ice-free and just one day earlier. Something that turned out to be not so similar was 2014. I drew a lot of comparisons this spring between this years melt and the one in 2014, because the thaws then and now both started late, ran to cold weather and featured high water levels. Despite having all those things in common, the ice went much faster this year.
This may have been partly due to the wet weather. Something I learned from meteorologists this year is that high humidity has a powerful melting effect on ice.
I’m curious to see how Sean Cockrem’s graphs look this spring. They’re more sophisticated than mine, and will reveal how this year’s temperature profile compares to those other years. It’s worth mentioning that some of Sean’s earlier predictions turned out to be pessimistic, but that’s because they were modeled on weather forecasts that also turned out to be pessimistic. If you tell Sean it’s going to be cold, he’s bound to respond that it will be a later melt.
Now that the May Long weekend is not overshadowed by the possibility of ice on the lake, we’re all set to start our summers, right?
Not so fast.
As I write this, the weather forecast is calling for gloomy conditions, with cloud, rain and below-normal temperatures for the next week. We could see near-freezing temperatures Friday and Saturday night, and it doesn’t currently look like the long weekend’s Saturday will be warm at all. The Weather Networks says a high of just 7°C with showers of rain, perhaps mixed with snow! and Environment Canada is just a little more optimistic, suggesting partly cloudy and 10°C. For Sunday, they trade positions, calling for 15 and 12 respectively. An average high for the 21st of May is close to 19°C.
Even the 14-day outlook doesn’t suggest any temperatures above 18°C before the end of May. Let’s hope they’re being pessimistic again.