Sings of Spring first, then a rummage through the archives to see how 2019 now compares to past years.
On the migratory duck front, I’ve seen a pair of Goldeneyes.
The last traces of snow are gone from my back yard and the north side of my roof.
Some hiking trails on Tunnel Island are mainly clear, but the B trail is not good: it had long stretches of slippery ice on the path last time I tried it.
The town came and swept the sand off my street and sidewalk. Yay! and thanks.
Warm roads would wear down the soft compound on my ice tires rapidly, so I put my summer tires on for this weekend’s road trip. Now I can roll my eyes righteously whenever I hear someone go by on studded tires.
Now let’s compare my April 18th pictures from this year to pictures taken on around the same date during the last five years. I’ll focus on two parts of the lake: the Town Island to Scotty Island stretch, and Treaty Island because it’s next to Rat Portage Bay and Devil’s Gap.
There are small amounts of open water in the Town/Scotty end of the Manitou.
Treaty Island is almost entirely frozen in right now. Devil’s Gap, at the right end of the oval, has some open water.
On April 18th of 2018, there was no open water around Town Island, let alone Scotty. Treaty Island had only a little water showing at Devil’s Gap.
Okay. On to 2017. I have pictures from April 20th that year. This is going to make you feel bad.
Not only could you reach Scotty Island, you could Reach Middle Island and parts of Hay Island, too.
Treaty Island had no ice at all.
2016 wasn’t quite as good as 2017, but you could drive a boat to the west end of Town Island, and you could get within shouting distance of Scotty Island.
Ice was rotting around Treaty. 2016 was an average year, with ice completely gone in the first few days of May.
2015: from April 17th.
Ice was weakening by this time that year, but not yet clearing much around Town Island. Another average year.
Same story at Treaty.
No open water anywhere near Town Island, and as for Scotty, fuhgetaboutit.
Treaty Island was about what you’d expect:
Ice-bound, with just a trickle of water open in Devil’s Gap. Rat Portage Bay was solid. 2014 was very late: the ice wasn’t all gone until May 21.
The dates change from year to year, but the pattern of ice-out is pretty consistent. These two sample areas open together.
This year’s thaw is nowhere near the best, but it won’t be horrifyingly late.
We’ve got another four days or so of warm temperatures before things turn a little cooler for a while, with some overnight lows likely to be just below freezing, and daytime highs sinking as low as 5ºC. I hope I don’t regret changing my tires. Below normal temperatures could stretch on for ten days.
The more the lake opens now, the more the ice will be vulnerable to wind and rain, even during that cold stretch.
It’s hard to guess how this will play out. If we could stay warm, we would certainly do a lot better than last year’s May 14th. But if things turn cold until the beginning of May, we might still end up around the same.
I’ll be talking to Ken O’Neil at Q-104 on Monday morning, and after that a training flight should give me a chance to take some fresh pictures. I’m hoping there were big changes over the Easter weekend.