May 6, 2023: Satellite Saturday

I’ll get to the satellite stuff in a minute, but first you have to see this picture from Joe Laurin.

This doe is going with the floe.

I would not have thought that ice could support a deer. Apparently there were some tense moments, but after a two mile rafting trip, the ice floe bumped into the shore, and the deer made it onto solid ground. This took place yesterday, somewhere around the Northwest Angle.

Joe also sent some aerial photos of that part of the lake.

Looking north west towards Northwest Angle Inlet from near Oak Island.

Looking east down Sturgeon Channel.

It looks as if the ice around Moose Bay and Little Traverse is getting weaker by the day.

Thanks, Joe!

It was cloudy this morning, so it doesn’t look like we’re going to get a fresh satellite image today.

But we can compare the most recent shot to the archives. The idea is to look at old images to see which years have similar amounts of ice in early May. We check the records to see how long it took to melt the ice then, and we might update our notion of how long it will take this year.

We’ll use the false-colour MODIS images from NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites for this.

May 3, 2023

This is how things looked three days ago.

May 5, 2022.

And this is how things looked in early May last year. Clearly, we’re doing much better this year. That’s encouraging, because for several weeks it looked as if we were going to match last year’s miserable spring. Ice-free date in 2022 was May 16. We’ll beat that this year.

We’ll skip 2021, because the ice was all gone by late April that year. Can’t win ’em all.

May 5, 2020.

2020 was thawing faster than this year, too. The ice was nearly gone by now, and the lake was all clear by May 9th.

May 4, 2019.

2019 was in our ballpark, with thinning ice by early May. It was all gone by May 14th.

May 6, 2018.

2018 was similar, but perhaps a little worse. The ice vanished by May 14th that year, too.

I would say we’re on track to do a little better than May 14th, if we get similar weather.

I didn’t make many weather notes in those two years, but I did find this remark in an old Ice Patrol Post: “2018 was a late, cold spring that turned really warm at the end of April. 2019 was a slow, cool spring with few warm days.”

Our forecast right now is for a stretch of cool wet days with milder than usual nights, and then perhaps a spike to 21ºC on Thursday the 11th. If that comes true, that could be the day. Or maybe the rain and humidity will do it first.

Let’s finish with a photo of Woodchuck Bay, from Andrew Ross.

Woodchuck Bay.

Oh, look, over on the left, there’s just enough ice to fill a cooler!

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