April 26, 2019: Matthew Render

I didn’t fly today, but a couple of my friends did, and they sent me photographs.

You can click on these photos to see a full-screen, zoomable version.

Matther Render passed by late this morning and took a few pictures from airliner altitudes.

Here’s a great shot of the northern part of Lake of the Woods.

Matthew’s route takes him well south of Kenora, so he can point his camera north and capture the whole north part of the lake. In this picture, what looks like mainland in the foreground is actually the north shore of the Alneau Peninsula, with enormous Cliff Island close by. It looks like all the little lakes on the Alneau are open.

Overall, the ice is darkening markedly, and areas of water are expanding. There’s a huge dark stretch of open water at Big Narrows now, visible at the left of the picture. Just above the centre, you can see where water is pushing through the Barrier Islands and tearing out the ice at The Elbow. Kenora’s partly hidden by cloud at the top of the picture, but Hay Island and Bigstone Bay are visible to the upper right. Ptarmigan Bay is almost encircled by cloud at the upper left.

Matthew also passes close to Shoal Lake, which is hard for me to reach.

Again, we’re looking north, so we have a good view of the south end of Shoal, but cloud is hiding the north shore. Dominique Island and Stevens Island are the distinctive matching pair near the middle of the picture. Cash Island is visible through a gap in the clouds above and to the right of centre, but Bag Bay and Clytie Bay, at the right side, are obscured. Shoal lake doesn’t usually thaw until a few days after Lake of the Woods.

I asked Lyle Griffith, one of my colleagues at MAG Canada, if he could get a picture of the area west of Northern Harbour, and he sent me this shot.

I’m really pleased to see that in addition to Northern Harbour, Lyle also managed to get in not only Sultana Island at the left, but Bare Point, including Bare Point Marina, at the upper right. Lunny’s Island and Nanton’s Island are on the centre line near the top. The east end of Scotty Island is visible at the upper left corner, and Town Island is part of the cluster at the top right.

Still solid ice at Northern Harbour, I’m afraid. Pine Portage Bay provides berths deep enough for keelboats, but it doesn’t open early. Anywhere you see an ice road, you can reckon on thick ice. In the first place, they’re built where currents are light, and then because they’re plowed, the ice deepens from exposure to the cold air.

Speaking of cold air, the forecast is still suggesting we’ll have a week of cooler weather, with overnight lows a degree or two either side of freezing, and single-digit daytime highs. Mean daily temperatures will be about 3 to 5ºC, so the thaw won’t grind to a halt, but it will slow down.

You can use the ARCHIVE OF PREVIOUS MONTHS AND YEARS tool to compare this April’s pictures to last year’s. Actually, you can choose a March, April or May from any of the last five years, and it’ll take you to the last Ice Patrol entry from that month. Then you can scroll down to look at posts from earlier that month. Cheer yourself up by looking at April of 2018, or ruin your mood by looking at years like 2017 or 2016. Find the ARCHIVE tool at the right side of the web page, below the FLAG COUNTER and the RECENT COMMENTS, but above the SATELLITE PICTURES links.

May 10, 2018: Remnants

Terra Satellite captured a clean image of Lake of the Woods today. Here’s how it looks in True Colour.

You can see there are three main patches of ice remaining. The bright one at the left is Shoal Lake, and the fainter one to the right of it is the area south of the Barrier Islands. The patchy one near the bottom is by Baudette.

Side note: Kenora shows very clearly on this picture as a beige blotch at the upper right. Look closely, and you can just make out three tiny dark blobs in the brightest part. Those are Rabbit Lake, Round Lake and Laurenson’s Lake!

Here’s the same image in false colour. Now that you know where to look, you should be able to spot our suburban lakes again.

The same three patches of ice are visible, but the differences in ice strength more clear.

Sometimes, very thin ice is indistinguishable from space. So I went flying and took a look from the air.

Click on any of the pictures below to see a larger version that you can zoom in on.

Middle Island and the Hades are in front of the aircraft’s nose. Scotty Island is in the center of the frame, and the patch of ice extending from Scotty to Whiskey Island is not visible from space. It is very weak, and will be gone tonight.

The larger sheet of ice is the one south of the Barrier Islands. It’s in poor shape, but it’s pretty big. We circled around it for a closer look.

This picture looks north, with Cliff Island in the foreground, and Bath Island dead center. The Barrier Islands are at the far edge of the ice, and the little patch by Scotty can be seen beyond them. Kenora is just visible as some pale specks in the far-off haze. You can’t see all of this icy area in this picture; smaller sheets of ice extend in both directions, but they’re weak and won’t last.

Our training flight took us over by Sioux Narrows. Click on the image to zoom in and see the iconic bridge in the foreground. Beyond it is Whitefish Bay, which has a reputation for thick ice, but it’s no straggler this year: it’s all open. The black and grey blur is just a propeller blade photo-bombing the picture.

This picture looks west, so in the top right corner, you can see the ice we circled around before, and far off on the horizon, the white line is the ice on Shoal Lake.

We didn’t go far south, so I didn’t get a good picture of the ice down on Big Traverse, but here’s a hazy one just to show that it’s real.

It’s not very warm today, but it is sunny and windy, so all this ice is going to have a hard time. The small patch by Scotty Island should be gone by dawn. The bigger area south of the Barrier Islands might last a day or two. I’m not sure about big sheet down on Big Traverse. It looks weak, and it’s very exposed to wind down there. It could also go in a day or two. The ice on Shoal Lake looks stronger. It might last three days or so.

Sean C. will update his graph tomorrow because he’s been saying for some time that May 11 would be the day we’ll hit a thaw index of 200, enough heat to melt all the ice we made last winter. I’ll recap his method tomorrow; it worked very well this year, and shows great promise for predicting future spring thaws.