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 2, 2019: Good Timing

My morning trip today was flown in cloud and showers, so there are no pictures from that. However, my afternoon trip brought me back to Kenora just as the sun broke through at about four o’clock this afternoon.

First, two pictures from guest contributors.

Rick Jackson sent me this picture from the French Narrows/Andrew Bay area. It was taken on April 30th, but it’s fun to see someone using a good-sized aluminum boat as an ice-breaker.

Rick says: We live at French Narrows and on April 30th lowered boat to see how far I could get? That Green Buoy is SE of Square Island #E25, ice was solid enough for the boat to ride up on top . Looking back in diaries we should get to BarePoint by May 08 -09 ?

I also got this May 1st picture of Rush Bay from Joe Pereira.

Joe says: Looks like all of Rush Bay is free of ice.

It’s been a frustrating week for aerial photography, but this afternoon the cloud scattered out, and we were able to fly over Lake of the Woods get some useful shots. The low cloud layer was breaking up, but we still had to stay beneath it, so these pictures are from a fairly low angle.

You can click on any of the following pictures to see a full-screen version that can be zoomed to it’s full resolution.

First up: Keewatin Channel/Rat Portage Bay.

Looking roughly east. The isolated island below the centre of the picture is Yacht Club Island; you can see the red roof of the Clubhouse at the east end. That blurry rectangle is the electrical connector for airplane’s heated windshield. Worth noting in this photograph is Gun Club Island, visible above Yacht Club. Because of the ice roads, Gun Club is always the last thing to let go on Rat Portage Bay, but it looks like that could happen any day now.

Next we banked south to fly down Keewatin Channel.

That’s Crowe Island right on the nose of the King Air, with ice extending left towards Rat Portage Bay. Above Crowe is Anglican Island, Channel Island and so on, with The Tangle at the right above the wipers. Zoom in to see Scotty Island in the distance.

I’ve been trying to get closer to Clearwater Bay for days, so we turned west.

This is Bulman Bay, just south of Rheault Bay, with Bulman Island near the middle of the picture. Ice seems to be shore to shore here. The eastern end of White Partridge Bay is at the right side of the frame. There are patches of open water there, but most of the dark areas are just cloud shadows.

Here’s Corkscrew Channel.

Looking west towards Clearwater. I wish we could have gone further west, or at least climbed higher, but I didn’t see any significant water in this direction.

We swung south towards Brûlé Point.

Ice is starting to let go here. None of the deciduous trees are turning green. I don’t think they’re even budding yet.

Then we had to turn east to start heading for the airport.

This is Fox Island and The Manitou. Follow the softening ice road at the left to check out Hare Island, Wolf Island and Welcome Channel. Something looked strange about Whisky Island, so we went for a closer look.

The Manitou is almost entirely frozen, but there’s some weird patchy ice around Whisky Island with a few air holes in it.

We straightened out to the east again.

Holmstrom’s Marsh is at the lower left of this photo, and Thompson Island extends beyond the aircraft’s nose.

Zoom in on this picture to see the open water getting tantalizingly close to Scotty Island. Right now there’s an ice barrier between Anchor Island and Scotty, but it should let go in a day or so.

Last, as we headed off the lake towards the airport, a look north over our left wing at Galt Island and Devil’s Gap.

Allan’s Island is partly hidden by the prop, and the propeller blade is pointing right at Devil’s Gap. In this picture, you can really see how the ice roads strengthen the ice around Baker’s Island at the mouth of Matheson Bay at the right, and off the wingtip, north towards Rogers Island and Treaty Island.

That concludes today’s whirlwind tour.

Weather note: there was a dusting of snow on the ground again this morning, and although the sun did come out late this afternoon, we still only managed to reach six or seven degrees Celsius. Winnipeg was sunnier for more of the day, so it was warmer there, but basically, a huge swath of Canada from the Prairies to Quebec is caught in a cold northerly air mass. Forecasters are fairly confident that colder than normal temperatures will persist for two weeks or so. They’re not  making any extravagant promises for the weeks after that, either.