May 14, 2022: Courtesy of MAG Canada

Early this morning, I received two photos from Jared Cantor. He took them yesterday morning from an airliner on the way from Toronto to Winnipeg. Jared was sitting on the left side of the plane, so his window seat looked south. Here’s what he saw from about 30,000 feet.

Click on these pictures to enlarge them.

Bigsby Island, Big Island and Big Traverse.

Everything’s big on this end of the lake. Above and left of centre are slender Pine Island and Sable Island,  Four Mile Bay, and the mouth of the Rainy River. The patch of ice is near Long Point.

Big Traverse, Buffalo Bay, Buffalo Point, Muskeg Bay, and Warroad, Minnesota.

In this second view from a minute or two later, the right side of the frame shows the view south across Buffalo Bay to Buffalo Point. Beyond that is Muskeg Bay and Warroad, Minnesota. The big patch of ‘land’ in the middle of the picture is actually another expanse of ice.

Thanks, Jared!

The photos above were omitted from the first version of this post. I meant to include them but lost track.

Knowing where we stood yesterday, I was very eager to go flying today. I knew there couldn’t be much ice left. I wanted to see what there was, to get the best idea of when the last of it will be gone.

So I called my old friends at MAG Canada to see if I could book a short flight. They wouldn’t take my money. They insisted on giving me a free flight for old time’s sake. I always knew that the company supported me and Ice Patrol on a local level, but I was touched to hear that this was supported by the head office. Thanks, Mark!

So I met up with Andy Zabloski at the hangar, and we went for a short tour. I wanted to head down towards Sioux Narrows, because I haven’t had any pictures from that direction recently.

You can click on these pictures to see a larger version.

Bigstone Bay. Sultana Island and Quarry Island are in the middle of the picture.

The first thing we noticed was that there was no ice at all left in Bigstone Bay. Sometimes Heenan Point or Needle point will trap some late ice, but not today. All the bays in this area are completely ice-free.

We had set off to look at Andrew Bay, Witch Bay and so on, but we couldn’t find any ice in that region at all, so we turned towards areas more likely to have late ice.

The first ice we did see was in the Manitou.

The Manitou. Bare Point in the foreground, Town Island in the middle.

There is ice here, but not very much. It’s hugging the shore of Wolf Island and Hare Island.

Here’s what it looks like from Devon Ostir’s dock cam on Hare Island.

He’s promised to send me an update when his shore is clear of ice. Thanks, Devon!

Now back to our flight. There’s usually late ice south of the Barrier Islands, but we didn’t see anything obvious, so we went further south to see if we could spot any at the south end of the lake.

Cliff Island and the Alneau Peninsula. Little Traverse is in the distance.

It was a long way away, and the patchy light from a broken cloud layer makes it hard to be certain, but I think there’s some ice down by Bay Island, in the Little Traverse.

Next we turned north to take a closer look at the Barrier Islands.

The Barrier Islands.

We had missed it at first glance, because it’s not a big sheet, but there’s some ice against the south shore of Shammis Island, very near the centre of this picture. Zoom in to see it, and the larger area of ice in the Manitou that we saw before.

The Manitou also has another ice remnant around Wolf Island.

Wolf Island, Welcome Channel, Thompson Island, Holmstrom’s Marsh.

There’s still some soft pan ice drifting in this area. In this picture, it’s right by the propeller blade, near Houghs Island, but it’s probably on the move.

We got a nice shot of the Scotty Island to Hay Island area.

Scotty Island, Middle Island, The Hades and Hay Island.

We found no ice at all in this area, and that also includes Slate Island, Railway Island, Queer Island and Square Island.

That concluded our look at the ice on Lake of the Woods. In short, we found almost none. If it’s not gone tonight, it certainly will be by Monday morning.

Here’s a picture from Kelly Belair, showing what some of the ice looks like when it piles up on a reef. This was taken near Rocky Point at about mid-day today. He says the picture doesn’t do it justice.

Ice pile by Rocky Point.

By the way, ice remnants are not the only boating hazard right now. Because of the high water levels, there are lots of deadheads and debris in the water. Parts from damaged docks and cribs have been reported.

All marinas should be operable now, but they’ll have a lot of catching up to do.

One last picture from our flight. As we were circling to return to the airport, we flew over Upper Black Sturgeon Lake. Water levels are up there, because the Winnipeg River is so high that it’s flowing into the Black Sturgeon Lakes, instead of the other way around. This was apparently an overstatement. River levels are high enough that the Black Sturgeon Lakes are not draining normally, but I heard recently that the rollers are still above water, so the river is not actually higher than the lakes. At least, not yet.

Beauty Bay Golf Course.

As just one example of how bad it is, the water is lapping at the clubhouse of the Beauty Bay Golf Course. The front parking lot and dock area (near the middle of this picture) are submerged.

So a special thanks to Andy and my old colleagues at MAG for this farewell flight. I got to ride one more time in GTWW, a plane I flew for thirty-two years and (checks logbook) over 5000 hours. Sad sniff.

Signs of spring:

My dog found a bee today.

Motorhomes and campers. Boat Trailers. Generally heavy traffic. Potholes with a capital P.

Ice Patrol will be wrapping up for the year soon. We’ll try to establish the actual date the ice was all gone, and we’ll update the graphs accordingly. I’m still hoping for a nice satellite image of an ice-free lake to round things off.

If you found Ice Patrol valuable this year, let me just mention that I did insert a donations form back in March. It uses the services of Stripe, and works in US dollars. Traffic is way up since March, so here’s a link to it, in case you missed it, and feel like it. The form is at the bottom of this post from March 16. Every donation is appreciated, but there’s no obligation. It’s entirely up to you.

 

May 12, 2022: It’s All Going

I wasn’t expecting pictures today because of the heavy rainfall warning. But the weather has been better than expected so far, and I received three great sets.

Before we start with the pictures, the comments form is overflowing with people reporting that various places are open, or opening fast.

Let’s back those assertions up with some evidence. First up, aerial photos from James Hendy at River Air. He’s another of my former colleagues from decades ago.

You can click on these pictures to see larger versions that reveal more detail.

James started at Poplar Bay.

Poplar Bay.

It’s partly open, but there’s ice at the south end. Let’s take a closer look.

Poplar Bay, Welcome Channel, Wolf Island, Hare Island.

Next, James cruised out to the Manitou. The first view looks roughly south.

 

The Manitou. Whisky Island at the right, Barrier Islands in the distance.

Still ice here, and the ice roads haven’t broken apart yet. The Manitou is one of the last places to let go, but once things reach this stage of soft ice, it’s very vulnerable to wind.

Looking more to the south west shows the western stretch of the Manitou.

West Manitou. Crow Rock Island at the upper centre.

Then back towards Kenora. The ability to reach Scotty Island is a key milestone in boat access.

 

Scotty Island in the distance.

I’ve heard from BB Camps that Town Island is accessible, and it looks like you can make it to Scotty Island now. More about the beach there, later.

Thanks, James!

Our second set of photos come from contributor Scott Benson.

Over Sugar Bay looking east down Clearwater Bay. It’s open water west of here. Frozen east and south.

Scotty’s beach in foreground looking east over Bigstone Bay.

That beach is looking pretty waterlogged. I like the little cluster of ice-road fragments, though.

Looking north over Shammis Island where the main ice road crosses. This area of the lake is 90+% ice at this point.

I’ve said it before, but the ice roads are the last things to let go. This broken one shows how close we are to total ice-out.

Over Ash Bay looking east at the grouping of islands including S Island and north up Corkscrew Channel. Open around S island and frozen to the east towards Whiskey island.

There’s still quite a lot of ice out there, but it’s almost all candled. Basically it’s just fancy ice cubes (well, hexagons, actually) floating around and keeping each other company.

Just west of Victoria Island looking north at Mud Portage, and Woodchuck/Deception bays in the distance. Woodchuck and Deception are ice free.

Over the entrance to Echo bay looking east down Ptarmigan Bay, Zig Zag island in the center. Ice free north of Zig Zag island.

Looking south east at Echo Bay. About 1/2 open water.

West Hawk Lake. This ice has been pushed around by the wind for the past 3 days and won’t last long.

I have had at least one report that West Hawk Lake is wide open. Consider that if an observer was standing on the far shore, they would not be able to see this ice remnant on the west side.

Looking south over Shoal Lake. Some areas open (maybe 5-10%) ice in the middle looks white, the strongest ice I spotted today.

Oh, good. I just had someone asking about Shoal Lake. Typically, Shoal Lake’s ice lasts a few days longer than it does on Lake of the Woods. There’s a pretty big pan there, but I don’t think it will last through the weekend.

Scott was kind enough to write captions for his pictures, saving me a lot of work. Thanks, Scott!

But wait, there’s more.

Here’s a picture  of the ice at Clearwater Bay from Brendon Thiessen that came in while I was writing this post.

This was taken at 2pm today (12/05/2022). Looking Northwest from Big Duck Island toward Sugar Bay.

Brendon was using a drone to check on his docks, (they’re fine) and sent me this to show the ice. Thanks, Brendon!

I’ll finish with a set of aerial photos from MAG Canada’s Justin Martin.

We’ll start with Northern Harbour, because I’ve been curious about it for a  couple of days.

Pine Portage Bay, Sultana Island and Bald Indian Bay.

There’s water around the docks now, but before you phone Northern Harbour, take note that there’s not actually a clear route out of Pine Portage Bay yet.

From Bare Point, Looking west towards Treaty Island.

It looks as if you could take a boat out through Devil’s Gap now. There’s still a lot of pan ice, though, so you’d want to be careful not to get trapped.

Middle Island and Scotty Island.

The same applies if you try to go beyond Scotty Island. Large pans of ice, moving around because of wind and current. South of the Barrier Islands, those sheets are massive. We’ll take a closer look in a minute.

But first, Corkscrew Island, Ptarmigan Bay and Clearwater Bay.

 

Corkscrew Island, looking west towards Zigzag Island.

Now the Barrier Islands, and the huge ice sheet south of them.

East Allie Island and Allie Island, looking over those Barrier Islands at the ice to the south.

Most years, that ice covered area is the last to go. Small pans of this may survive for several more days.

Thanks for these, Justin!

This last shot from Justin is a little different.

Judging by the Kenora Airport in the background, this is the Essex Road. As you can see, a lengthy stretch of it is underwater.

This is not the only road in the region to be flooded or washed out. The problem in this location is that the Winnipeg River is now higher than the Black Sturgeon Lakes, causing their water levels to rise.

It’s raining as I write this, and we have another heavy rainfall warning, so water levels in the whole drainage basin of Lake of the Woods are sure to continue rising.

As far as the ice is concerned, it’s melting everywhere, and it’s melting fast. It won’t be long now.

 

 

May 4, 2022: Startling Change

I had a chance to go flying today. Quinn Wilson, one of my former colleagues, was able to take me for a flight in one of MAG Canada’s Rockwell Aero Commander 500s.

We went for a tour of the northern half of the lake. I took quite a lot of pictures, and here’s a selection of the most informative.

You can click on these photos to see a larger, zoomable version.

Rat Portage Bay and Safety Bay.

The usual shot taken shortly after take-off. At the left edge, Rat Portage Bay is showing an increased amount of open water; it approaches Gun Club Island now.

We flew west to check out Clearwater Bay.

Clearwater Bay and Deception Bay.

Most of Clearwater and Ptarmigan are still frozen over.

Deception Bay.

But there is some open water around the marina in Deception Bay.

Ash Rapids.

I wanted a closer look at Ash Rapids to see if there was more open water than yesterday. I think yes, a little.

Southwest end of Big Narrows.

Big Narrows is practically wide open now. Of course, the routes to it are still frozen.

Wiley Point.

From Big Narrows, the open water has spread as far as Wiley Point.

From there, we cruised over to look at the Barrier Islands.

Crow Rock Pass.

Spotted some open water at Crow Rock Pass, and there’s a tiny bit near Twelve Mile Portage, too.

The Elbow.

Developments around the Elbow look more dramatic. I’m sure there’s more open water here than in Justin’s pictures from just thirty hours earlier.

Queer Island and French Narrows.

And where we saw weakening ice yesterday, there are growing patches of open water around Queer Island.

Next, over to Bigstone Bay.

Eagle Pass.

There’s still just a very small patch of water at Eagle Pass.

Scotty Island, Nanton Island, Town Island.

I’m keeping a close eye on the waters approaching Scotty Island, as this is an area of dynamic change. I think there’s a visible difference since yesterday.

Lastly, a look at Devil’s gap from the Rogers Island side.

Rogers Island and Devil’s Gap.

Ice in this area always holds out longer than you’d expect. In fact, this very spot was the reason Ice Patrol started in the first place,  But there is noticeable change here, too, as the water opens up towards Galt Island.

I hope to go flying with Quinn again in a few days. Thanks, Quinn!

In summary, there was a surprising amount of change in one day. Patches of rotten ice opened up dramatically, and most areas with open water saw at least a little expansion.

The latest MODIS image bears that out.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite, May 4, 2022, in false colour.

Here’s the matching shot from yesterday.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Terra satellite, May 3, 2022, in false colour.

Black patches of open water seem larger in today’s image. Although the lake is still about 95% ice-covered, whole swaths of that ice have turned darker, indicating that it is thinning or weakening.

The weather: tomorrow we might see above normal temperatures for the first time in weeks. The Weather Network says a high of 16°C, slightly above seasonal norms of around 15. Environment Canada thinks we might make it to 18°C. Friday’s supposed to be similar, but the weather will be a few degrees cooler on the weekend, and rain is expected to start on Saturday night and last a few days. I was recently reminded by retired meteorologist Louis Legal, that it’s not the actual rain that destroys ice. It’s the high humidity that comes with the rain, and the energy transferred when water vapour condenses onto snow or ice. So I expect rapid change for the next few days. We could be approaching a turning point.

The Lake of the Woods Control Board has announced that the Norman Dam will soon be going wide open. You can read the full announcement at the preceding link, but the gist of it is that there was record precipitation in April, so the lake has been rising fast and will continue to do so. The lake is already at 95th percentile levels, and it is predicted to reach the highest allowable levels by mid-May. Even at maximum flow, the dam cannot drain the lake as fast as it is filling up, so the dam will be opening all the way on May 7, in an attempt to get a head start.

Signs of spring: Loons are back. I thought I spotted some yesterday, but today I was able to confirm it with Derek, an experienced birder who has seen and heard them clearly. Oh, I guess that’s another sign of spring: the birders must be getting more active, because I met two today. On a more urban level, the street-sweepers are out. This also sparks joy, but in a less poetic way.

April 28, 2022: Aerial Photos

My old friend Tom Hutton went flying on over the lake yesterday, and took a whole set of pictures for us.

You can still count the open patches of water on Lake of the Woods on your fingers, but let’s go have a look at some of them.

You can click on these pictures to see a larger, zoomable version.

Kenora, with Rat Portage Bay in the middle and Safety Bay to the right.

Okay, everybody in town knows there’s open water on Safety Bay.

Here’s a closer look at what’s open in Keewatin Channel and Second Channel.

Keewatin Channel and Second Channel. White Partridge Bay in the distance.

We’ve covered this key area in more detail with Paul Leischow’s drone panoramas, but here’s an overview that puts it in perspective.

What about further south than this. Is the ice letting go around Town Island yet?

Town Island at the lower right, Thompson Island in the middle and Wolf Island up and to the left.

It’s starting to look pretty rotten here, where the current flows into Keewatin Channel. But there’s still a whole lot of snow-covered ice out in the Manitou, and well, everywhere. That’s Shoal Lake way off in the distance.

Now a look at the Barrier Islands, because this is the next closest place to Kenora where we can expect to see open water in the early stages of the thaw.

Looking West from the Eastern Peninsula along the Barrier Islands. Square Island* is at the lower right.

There’s a fair-sized expanse of water at the Elbow. French Narrows, at the western tip of the Eastern Peninsula has just a tiny patch. You’ll have to zoom in to see it well. It’s just left of centre in this picture.

*Square Island is not square in shape. It is shaped like a carpenter’s square.

How about down at the south end of the lake?

Looking south from near the Northwest Angle. Birch Island, Oak Island and Flag Island span the picture at the edge of the Big Traverse.

Big Traverse is still ice-covered, but the photo above shows quite a lot of open water along the west side of Falcon Island.

Big Narrows is always worth checking on.

Looking east over Big Narrows.

We saw some low-altitude views of this area from Scott Benson yesterday. In some of those pictures, the slanting evening light made some of the ice resemble water. Here’s how it looks from a higher viewpoint, and the daylight makes the extent of the water very clear.

Lastly, as Tom headed back towards the airport, he took a look at Devil’s Gap.

Devil’s Gap.

This wasn’t clearly visible in the first photo, but you can see that there’s only small penetration of water into Rat Portage Bay, and everything out towards Bigstone Bay is pretty solid.

Thanks, Tom!

Signs of spring: pre-season training for the water-bomber pilots.

Tanker practicing on Safety bay, as seen from Norman Beach.

You might recall that a recent photo showed no open water on Wabigoon Lake, close to Dryden’s big Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources base. Every spring, tanker crews come to Kenora to train on either Safety Bay or the Winnipeg River.

March 28, 2022: Andy Zabloski

Tom Hutton and Andy Zabloski–a couple of my old colleagues–went flying today and sent me an excellent selection of pictures to show what’s going on. Spoiler: not much.

We’ll start with a look at Keewatin Channel and Second Channel, because they’re close to  town and are always a couple of the first stretches to open up.

Second Channel, Keewatin Channel and Safety Bay, with Keewatin in the background.

Not really a lot of open water here, for late March.

You can click on these pictures to see the full-size, zoomable version.

Here’s Devil’s Gap.

Devil’s Gap.

Very little water here so far, only where the current is strongest. Rat Portage Bay, in the foreground of this shot, has mild currents and tends to thaw fairly late.

Northern Harbour, with Hay, Middle and Scotty Islands further away.

Northern Harbour, on Pine Portage Bay, is still totally frozen in, and Bigstone Bay looks solid too.

Middle Island and Scotty Island, with Whisky Island at the right and the Barrier Islands in the middle distance.

Last is a look at Middle Island and Scotty Island, and as you’d expect, it’s all frozen out that way. The ice looks a little softer around the Elbow, where the current pushes between the Barrier Islands.

Speaking of softer ice, I should warn that maintenance on the ice roads was halted a week ago, and Leonard Boucha says conditions are very risky. See more of what he has to say in this article at Kenora Online.

Before I forget, there might still be tickets available left for Common Ground. Last I heard, there were a handful at both the museum and the library, but that was days ago. I’ll be one of this year’s storytellers, and I’ve been having fun putting together a talk and slideshow to explain what I’ve learned in over thirty years of observing the thaw.

As part of that, I’ve been reviewing some satellite imagery. As of yesterday, pictures of this year bore a striking similarity to pictures from the same date in 2018. 

LotW in false colour from March 27, 2022.

Nothing to see here, except a little water on the Winnipeg River, and maybe down by Big Narrows. Unless we get some really favourable weather conditions, we can expect this year’s ice-free date to fall somewhere close to 2018’s: May 14th. Don’t panic: much of the lake will be boat accessible a week or more before the lake is 100% clear.

Signs of Spring: I’ve heard some geese, and finally managed a clear sighting of a pair of Canadas yesterday.

I’ll be chatting with Ken O’Neil at Q-104 tomorrow morning: Tuesday March 29th. Give us a listen.

 

 

 

 

 

April 20, 2021: Ice Pans

Despite some cold days, the ice is breaking up.

A couple of satellite pictures to show the progress.

This is from Saturday:

April 17, 2021.

And this is from Monday:

April 19, 2021.

Even from space, you can see that the ice sheets are breaking apart.

Let’s take a closer look, from one of the MAG Canada Cessna 337 training flights yesterday. Pictures courtesy of Justin Martin.

You can click on these to see a full-size version.

The Manitou.

Looking west down the Manitou. Scotty Island is at the lower left, by the aircraft’s nose. The largest sheet of ice here is between Scotty and Whiskey Island. Right in the middle of the ice, Lemon Island and Manitou Island have clear patches to their south, like shadows. I think that’s from the ice being driven by a north wind.

Bigstone Bay.

The mouth of Bigstone Bay has been blocked until recently. Below the Cessna’s wingtip, you can find Heenan Point stretching out towards Needle Point near the middle of the picture. The two points were acting as kind of a choke point for the ice sheet, but it has cleared. At the right side are the Hades, and the ice pan in the foreground is just off Middle Island’s Heaps Point. The ice road is cracking up like a giant bar code.

Let’s take a look at things south of the Barrier Islands.

Whiteout Island.

Looking north towards the Barrier Islands. My chart doesn’t give a name to the chain of three islands in the middle of this picture, but the one to the right of them is Whiteout Island. As we saw in the satellite images, the big sheet of ice is fragmenting.

Barrier Islands: Allie and East Allie Islands.

Justin’s next shot takes us just a little further north to better see the Barrier Islands. Allie Island and East Allie Island stretch across the middle of the frame here, with the Devil’s Elbow left of center.

Big Narrows Island.

This is about as far down the lake as Justin got. We’re looking west over Big Narrows Island towards a sunlit sheet of ice on Shoal Lake in the distance.

Justin has more flights this week, so I hope we can all see the last ice go. Thanks Justin!

 

April 17, 2021: Satellite Saturday / Travel Restrictions

Warm temperatures and sunny skies meant both Aqua and Terra satellites were able to get MODIS images of Lake of the Woods today.

Here’s what Terra saw this morning.

You can click on this image to see a version with tags for landmarks.

Terra satellite’s MODIS image for April 17, 2021, in false colour.

Looks like we’re down to about 10% ice cover now, but most of what remains is located where it still prevents boaters from reaching popular areas.

Here’s how it looked to Aqua in the afternoon, with less cloud cover.

Aqua satellite’s MODIS image for April 17, 2021, in false colour.

There are visible differences. For starters, the ice clinging to the lake’s south shore is markedly reduced. Perhaps more subtle, the northern ice is also shrinking by the hour. Take a close look at the ice sheet in Bigstone Bay north of Hay Island. It’s faded a lot today. I’d say the ice on Shoal Lake has thinned, too, but only a little.

And just in case you find the false colour version hard to assess, here’s the same image in true colour. [and with no infrared component]

Aqua satellite’s MODIS image for April 17, 2021, in true colour.

While Bigstone Bay is undergoing rapid change, things seem more stable on the Manitou, at least as seen from space.

Devon Ostir sent me a picture from his Dock Cam on Hare Island, looking out at the receding ice on the Manitou.

View south from Hare Island.

He says there’s been a big change in the last day or two. Thanks Devon.

Change of subject.

By now you’ve probably heard that Ontario is closing its borders with Manitoba and Quebec for all but essential travel, starting tomorrow. Here’s a link to a CBC News story that covers Ontario’s new restrictions in general, including a link to the Order in Council that pertains to travel from Manitoba and Quebec.

And here’s the official wording of Section 2 of the Order in Council.

Certain travel into Ontario from Manitoba and Quebec prohibited
No person shall travel into Ontario from Manitoba or Quebec unless,
(a) the person’s principal residence is in Ontario;
(b) the person is moving to Ontario in order to make their principal residence in Ontario;
(c) the person is travelling through Ontario without unnecessary stops to reach their principal residence in another jurisdiction;
(d) the person is travelling into or through Ontario by means of an international or interprovincial bus, train, ferry, or flight;
(e) the person is travelling to perform work in Ontario;
(f) the person is transporting goods into or through Ontario as part of the operation of a business that involves the transportation of goods;
(g) the person’s health makes it necessary to travel into Ontario to obtain health care or social services;
(h) the person is travelling in a vehicle that is transporting or that will transport a person in Ontario to or from a hospital or health care facility in Manitoba or Quebec;
(i) the person is being transported from a hospital or health care facility in Manitoba or Quebec, whether by ambulance or by any other means;
(j) the person is,
(i) in the care of a children’s aid society in Ontario pursuant to a court order or a written agreement,
(ii) in the care of a person subject to the supervision of a children’s aid society in Ontario pursuant to a court order or a written agreement, or
(iii) at least 16 years old and no more than 21 years old and receiving care, services or support pursuant to an agreement with a children’s aid society in Ontario;
(k) the person must enter Ontario to exercise custody or access rights contained in an agreement;
(l) the person must enter Ontario to comply with an order contained in a decision or judgment of a court or tribunal, or as otherwise required by law;
(m) the person is travelling into Ontario for the purpose of exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right as recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982;
(n) the person is travelling into Ontario to respond to a critical incident, including travel for the purpose of,
(i) preventing injury or illness to persons,
(ii) preventing damage to property, or
(iii) performing a necessary action to respond to the critical incident; or
(o) the travel is necessary for a humanitarian or compassionate reason, such as,
(i) providing care or services to a person who requires them due to their state of health,
(ii) attending on a person who is dying, or
(iii) attending a funeral.

From the point of view of a cottage owner, that’s very restrictive. I’ve only copied out Section 2 here, but you can use the link to the Order in Council above to read the PDF in its entirety. Section 1 is about who can police the act, and Section 3 is about the obligations of people who are stopped under its provisions.

 

April 16, 2021: New Aerials / Big Changes

A week of cloud and snow has left us all wondering what’s happening on the lake. But poor flying weather and cloud cover that blocked the satellites from seeing anything left us all in the dark. Until yesterday.

First, it cleared up enough yesterday afternoon that NASA’s Aqua satellite managed to image most of Lake of the Woods.

If you click on this picture, you’ll see a version with some landmarks tagged.

Aqua satellite’s image from April 15, 2021, in false colour.

There are clearly areas of ice on Shoal Lake, and both north and south of the Barrier Islands. Closer to Kenora, cloud cover makes it hard to be confident, but it looks like mostly open water. The south end of the lake looks completely clear. This is possible, it was down to free-floating sheets of ice five days ago, and that stuff is very vulnerable to wind action.

Let’s follow up with some aerial photography to get a more detailed picture of how it’s going. My friend Quinn Wilson was out for a training flight in one of the MAG Canada fire detection planes, a Cessna 337. He took these pictures on Thursday afternoon.

If you click on these pictures, you’ll see a larger full screen version.

Bigstone Bay, Hay Island.

In this shot, the camera is pointing south across Bigstone Bay at Hay Island. Interestingly, the east end of the bay is mostly water, but there are extensive ice sheets west of Copper Island. In the distance, Moore Bay appears open, but Andrew Bay and everything further south look icy.

Pine Portage Bay.

From the other side of the plane, Pine Portage Bay, home of Northern Harbour. The marina is just visible at the right edge.

Town Island, Keewatin Channel, Second Channel, The Tangle.

Looking north. Town Island is at the lower right, and the picture is roughly centered on Shragge’s Island. It looks like the water is open from Kenora all the way to Leisure Island now.

The Manitou.

In the other direction, the Manitou is still covered in ice. I don’t know the name of the island in the foreground; it’s next door to Hough’s. Whiskey Island is at the right, and the Barrier Islands are in the distance.

Welcome Channel.

Welcome Channel is still frozen over, but the shorelines are starting to let go.

Poplar Bay.

The strange track-like feature is just a reflection of the upholstery stitching in side the plane.

Abbott Island, Cross Island, Turnbull Island, Rheault Bay.

West of Keewatin, there’s still pan ice close to town.

Crowe Island, Anglican Island Channel Island, Shragges Island, Keewatin Channel, Second Channel, Canoe Channel.

As you can see, this area is open except for where the ice roads ran, but there’s still plenty of ice further out on the lake. Quinn says all that ice looks poor, though. Thanks, Quinn!

Only days now until the lake is fully open.

I’ve got more photos coming in, taken this morning, but while I receive them and sort them out, I’ll put this batch up for people to see.

I’ll put the newest photos up in a separate post later today.

 

March 26, 2021: Mid-altitude overview

This photo was taken by Simeon Kubassek, who is flying for Air Bravo during his lay-off from Air Canada, where he flew Boeing 777’s. I love to get occasional shots from the mid-altitudes—high enough to need a pressurized plane, but not as high as the jets—because they show lots of terrain without too much haze.

You can click on this picture to see it full screen, and that version is zoomable.

This photograph shows the Manitou in the foreground, with the Northern Peninsula at the left, and the Barrier Islands at the lower right, near the little patch of window frame. Notable in that latter area is new open water that seems to be expanding  at the Elbow.

The Manitou, Northern Peninsula and Barrier Islands.

Zoom in for a better look at the open water in Keewatin Channel (left of center), and Safety Bay (further left).

Another interesting set of features are some prominent pressure ridges in the Manitou. Check out the white lines around Whiskey Island; they are quite distinct from the ice roads, which usually show grey ice between the twin snowbanks.

In case you missed it, I made an update to yesterday’s post to include an updated “Pancake Graph.” More formally called the Inflection to Thaw Calendar, it compares the beginning and completion dates of recent year’s thaws. The latest version shows how our current spring is stacking up. Spoiler: it’s early but perhaps not rapid. Scroll down to see the previous post, or click here.

 

March 19, 2021: Jason Duguay

Our guest contributor today is Jason Duguay. He’s a paramedic with ORNGE, and when there’s not a patient on the helicopter, he sometimes has time to snap some low-level photos near Kenora, usually in the vicinity of the LotW District Hospital or the Kenora airport. Here’s a couple from a recent flight.

You can click on these images to see them full screen, and then zoom in.

Longbow Lake

I left this picture full-size because I like the rotor blade.

 

Longbow Lake, Pine Portage Bay, Bigstone Bay.

This one, I cropped to letterbox proportions, because there was a lot of sky, and it saves on upload time and storage space.

In addition to his job as a paramedic, Jason also explores the lake on his ATV. Here’s what he said about a recent outing: “I was all the way down to Calendar Island on my ATV on Wednesday. The ice is still tight and solid. But there is little to no snow on top of the ice. Only a few slushy areas around Narrows or ice ridges. The Landings seem to be holding up for now as well.”

Thanks for the report and pix, Jason!

 Some technical notes and stuff.

The numbers of visitors to Ice Patrol are running around the same as last year, which is to say about half what they were before the pandemic. Notably, hits from the US have dropped from about a third of the total to about a fifth or less. This makes sense. US visitors cannot look forward to visiting Canada yet, and the number of Canadian snowbirds wintering in the US is drastically reduced.

Bizarre stuff from Flag Counter: I have recently had visitors from Tunisia and Martinique. Umm, hi! Welcome to the frozen north.

So far, my regular contributors are popping up in my inbox like old friends, and I haven’t even emailed them to nag! Naturally, some are absent, as pilots have been laid off by the thousands. I recently heard that my own lay-off has been extended to the end of June, so it’s unlikely that I will be flying or taking any aerial photos myself this year. Luckily, a couple of my colleagues are keeping MAG Canada’s home fires burning, and are taking pictures for me when they can.

I have added a search tool to the sidebar of the website. This makes it possible to search the blog for posts about your favourite place or contributor.

NOTE: The search box won’t work all that well after I archive most of the previous years on a separate site (I’m running out of storage here) but I’ll provide links, and the archive site will also have a search tool.

Remember, if you view most of your Ice Patrol content via an email subscription, or on a mobile device, you’re missing out on some of the features of the full website. Stop by for a visit now and then. The easiest way is to type icepatrol.ca into your browser.

The weather continues to improve. Today we hit 10°C for several hours, and the Weather Network is forecasting a high of 11°C for tomorrow. After the weekend, we’re probably looking at cooling off a bit, with daytime highs in the low single digits next week, and overnight lows ranging from -4°C to as low as -7°C. Don’t be too disappointed; normal temps this time of year are more like highs of merely 2°C and lows of about -8°C, and we’re still doing better than that.