May 16, 2022: All Clear

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.

The 2022 Brick Graph.

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.

2022 Pancake Graph.

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.




6 thoughts on “May 16, 2022: All Clear

  1. Might be safe to say all the highwater years have late ice free dates

    George Sinkins -GTA Area Manager

  2. Another fun year of the Ice Patrol. Thank you for taking the time to keep this rolling.

    You mentioned in many reports this year regarding the humidity being an ice melting accelerator vs rain. That makes sense to me.

    In regards to lake ice, a large majority of the melting occurs from the bottom up. While the rain and humidity on the surface definitely helps, my hypothesis is the inflow/runoff of the warm (relative) water from precipitation really accelerated the bottom-up melt. Along with the very high current most parts of the lake experienced in turn.

    One interesting feature I found via satellite this season was the shape of the open water at the mouth of the Rainy River around the gaps of Pine Island. In most years the open water looks like a “mushroom”. This year the open water was very rectangular, showing the affect of the swift current cutting through the ice.

    April 2016: [cid:6f764907-a159-4ade-a605-dd515ce8b3f4]

    May 2022: [cid:1efc3bd6-9630-4d23-ba66-76da72a1801a]

    I wonder if there is any way to correlate the LCWB inflow rates over the years vs. the speed of ice off.

    Thanks again for the fun emails! Eric


  3. Thanks Tim,
    Your posts have been a huge breath of fresh air and gave hope the the winter/spring from hell would eventually end!!!
    Very glad you and your contributors made it work this year😁
    Hope you have great summer🎣

  4. Thanks for being the eyes on the lake that we need from Winnipeg! I was glued to your blog to get a sense of how things were unfolding this spring. Your efforts, photographs and analysis are much appreciated!

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