After several days of poor weather, skies finally lifted yesterday. That brought the aerial photographers out.
Tom Lindstrom, one of my airline pilot friends, was passing overhead in a 737 yesterday, and although Kenora was covered by cloud when he went by, he found Dryden in the clear.
Here’s a look at how things are going on Wabigoon Lake.
You can click on this picture to see a much larger, zoomable version.
The only open water I can see is in the Wabigoon River. Even the smaller lakes around the Dryden Regional Airport are still ice-covered. This shows that we are still at the stage where melting is only happening due to water flow.
Tom Lindstrom has contributed photos to Ice Patrol before, and knew I was anxious for fresh shots this spring. Thanks, Tom!
We also have a new contributor. Scott Benson has been an Ice Patrol follower for years, and yesterday he sent me photographs of Lake of the Woods taken from his Piper PA-12 on skis.
You can click on these pictures to see much larger, zoomable versions.
Don’t be fooled by the subtle difference between ice and water in the distance. If you zoom in for a closer look, it’s almost all ice.
There’s a clear pattern here. There’s only open water in passages with current. The vast majority of the lake is still ice-covered.
Tom Bowman was the first person to specify the exact location of this photo.
Several people pitched in to help me figure out the location for this photo. Thanks to Jim Richardson, David Lindstrom and Doug LeBlanc for pointing me to Yellow Girl Bay. That led me to nearby parts of Long Bay to figure out the previous picture.
Thanks, Scott. I hope you’ll send more pictures in the coming weeks.
Now, let’s talk about how the thaw is progressing. We’ve been basically stalled for a month, with little progress during April. To illustrate that point, let’s compare yesterday’s satellite images to one from a month ago.
Yes, there’s a little more open water now, but in many years, the change during that month would have been profound. Sometimes, total.
Okay, so it’s been cold recently. What about looking forward? The good news is, we’ve probably arrived at the Inflection Date. Finally. The seven day forecast says we’ll have above-freezing temperatures every day, and we could flirt with double-digit highs for a few of those days. Nighttime lows will be nearly always above freezing, but not by much.
That means the air temperatures will be mild enough to start actually melting ice, and it’s about time. The sun’s rays are powerful this time of year, and the days are long, so I hope to see steady progress. That’s the good news.
Working against us are two significant factors. One, it was a long, cold winter, and we probably still have a lot of ice. Two, the refreshingly mild temperatures in our forecast are not all that warm compared to seasonal norms. An average high for today’s date would be 12.6°C. The record high, set in 1952, was 28.9°C!
The long-term forecast holds out hope for some slightly better than average temperatures starting around May 5th, but the best number on there so far is a shot at hitting 15°C on one day. That’s not exactly a heat wave.
So if we have to thaw the entire lake with only so-so warmth, it’s still going to take some time. I heard from Sean Cockrem yesterday, and he’s all set to start graphing the data based on today as Inflection. I look forward to seeing his prediction, but even with the tendency of late thaws to move fast, I’m not expecting a miracle.