May 8, 2018: More Good News!

I got pictures from two more co-workers. Tom Hutton and James Biesenthal were flying together, and they both took pictures.

First, the ones from Tom Hutton.

The classic Keewatin waterfront shot to get us started. No more ice in Safety Bay.

Here’s a closer look at Crowe Island, Anglican Island and Channel Island. They’re all clear, but there’s ice out past Thompson Island.

This third picture shows Gun Club Island in the left foreground, then Treaty Island and Roger’s look joined together by the low angle. That’s Town Island in the middle distance, left of center. Beyond it, by Nantons Island, there’s still ice.

Now some pictures from James Biesenthal. There’s some overlap with Tom’s pictures, but I’ve selected a few that offer a different view.

This is the Winnipeg River, looking south with Locke Bay spanning the frame in the background.

Further south, James photographed the west channel of the river, with Keewatin in the distance.

Then Darlington Bay with Keewatin in the center of the picture.

Then from over the Keewatin bridge, this shot of the cluster of islands that include Mackie’s, Cameron, Cross, Kalamalka, Gourlay and Yacht Club islands. Further right, Turnbull Island and Rheault Bay. You’d have to zoom in to see the distant ice on the Manitou.

The last shot is of Treaty Island, with Shragge’s to the right of center and Channel Island at the wingtip. More to the left are Rogers, Galt, and Town Islands. There’s still enough ice to block passage to Scotty Island, but it won’t last long.

Monday’s high was 28.3°C, but Tuesday was quite a bit cooler, reaching just 13°C. By Wednesday night, the Weather Network forecast says we’ll be dipping down to 1°C, and rising to just 9°C on Thursday. I don’t think it will matter much: for Lake Dwellers near Kenora, the lake will be navigable.

Although cool, Thursday should also be sunny, so the satellite photographs will show if there’s any ice remaining by then. Some ice may persist on the south part of the lake for a few days longer. Shoal Lake is going fast, so it might go at the same time Lake of the Woods this year.

In case you missed seeing the reports in the comments section, Clearwater Bay is open, West Hawk Lake is open, and down by Sioux Narrows,  Long Bay is open.

April 13, 2018: No Progress

We returned to Kenora from the north today, so I’ll start with a picture of the Winnipeg River. It’s about the only place I thought we might see improvement.

This is looking south west, with the Dalles near the middle of the picture. Click on the image to zoom in, and you can make out a little open water in the Myrtle Rapids area. Way off in the upper right corner, you can see Shoal Lake. It’s a sheet of white.

Next, a picture centered on Keewatin.

You’re looking south, with the Keewatin bridge close to dead center of the frame. Downtown Kenora is at the left, above the shiny propeller spinner. In the distance, you can see the Barrier Islands and beyond.

You’ll notice that the water on Safety Bay still doesn’t connect to the water in Keewatin Channel.

Here’s a closer look at that frozen patch.

Rheault Bay is right of center, just above the aircraft’s nose. There’s a little open water at the lower left, in the area of Mackie Island, but it still doesn’t reach beyond the tip of Yacht Club Island, and if you zoom in for a closer look, you can clearly see quite a lot of the water has refrozen. In the middle distance, the patch of water around Channel Island hasn’t expanded.

Last, a better look at Darlington Bay and Safety Bay.

Looking east, with the Keewatin bridge and the Kenora Forest Products stud mill in the foreground. There’s a lot of refrozen surface visible between the Keewatin bridge and nearby Lowe’s Island. Zoom in to see more fresh ice closer to Kenora, near the top center of the picture.

It was -10°C early this morning, and our afternoon high was -2°C, so it’s no surprise that nothing much melted. Next week should be better. Starting Tuesday, we might see days with more hours of above freezing temperatures than below.

March 20, 2018: Equinox

It’s been a week since I posted photographs, so it’s time for another look. We came in from the north, so let’s start with the Winnipeg River.

This is the Big Stretch, and it’s almost all frozen. There’s a little patch of water under the railway bridge at Minaki (off the right edge of this picture) and another little bit at the south end of the stretch, and that’s about it. Still plenty of snow cover, too.

We’ll come back to take a look at the headwaters when we get closer to town. First, let’s update Safety Bay and Keewatin Channel.

This photo is centred on Keewatin, looking south, and the expanse of ice in the foreground is Darlington Bay. Ice is softening on Safety Bay, and a narrow channel is opening up from near the Keewatin Bridge to near Cross Island, but Yacht Club Island is still ice-bound.

You can click on any of these pictures to see the full-resolution, zoomable version.

This is also the best of today’s shots to see further out onto the lake at how much ice there is, and how uniformly white the snow-cover is.

Okay, I said we’d revisit the Winnipeg River headwaters when we got closer.

We’ve turned east toward the airport, so this is the view down Palmerston Channel, with Dufresne Island at the left, and the bypass above the propeller spinner. Norman is at the right edge. Just above the nose of the aircraft is the east end of Darlington Bay, where there’s open water around Tunnel Island.

Let’s finish with a look at downtown Kenora.

Norman is at the lower right, with Coney Island stretching to the right edge of the picture. Zoom in to look at Devil’s Gap in the middle distance. Not a lot of open water out that way. Things look a little more spring-like in Norman Bay, Kenora Bay and the area around the Coney Island pedestrian bridge.

So, how are we doing? A quick look at my archives shows that we’re not doing as well as last year. Feel free to use the archive tool on the right sidebar to hunt down posts from past years. On March 20th of 2017, you could drive a boat to the Yacht Club. 2016 was a typical year: March then was not as good as 2017, but better than right now.

Cam went ice fishing again this last weekend, and he reports that he still had to drill through three feet of clear, strong ice. I’ve also heard at least one claim that there isn’t much current running, which is another negative factor.

To see real change, we need to strip off that snow cover that protects the ice. My first choice would be a good rainfall, and my second would be a few days of warm south winds. Sadly, the forecast is for flurries tonight, which will not help. In the longer run, there’s talk of a few cold days, then a milder spell, but then below normal temperatures as we wrap up March and head into April.

Spring is coming, Lake Dwellers, but it’s not coming very fast.



April 7, 2017: River Run

Bill and Kerry recently asked for an update on the Winnipeg River, which worked out well. My flight brought me back to Kenora from the north today, and Andy and I were able to swing slightly west of Kenora to set up for runway 08. That took us right down the river as we descended from our cruising altitude.

To be clear, I cannot usually accommodate requests. Walsten Air works hard at supporting my hobby, often assigning me trips or training flights that work in Ice Patrol’s favour, but at the end of the day, I go where I’m paid to go, give or take some discretion about how I approach the airport.

We began taking pictures at the south end of Big Sand Lake, which is still mostly frozen.

Minaki and Gun Lake.

Click on these pictures to zoom see a larger version. Click on that to zoom in.

Tunnel Bay, The Big Stretch.

Don’t let this picture fool you; the afternoon sun is shining on ripples in the water, and it resembles white ice. Look closer. In the foreground, there’s ice in Tunnel Bay, but the whole Big Stretch is open water.

The Dalles, Locke Bay.

The pattern is pretty clear. Wherever the water is flowing, the ice is melting. Quiet bays are still frozen.

Dufresne Island.

My marine chart of the river doesn’t provide names for all the islands in the picture above. Fiddler’s Island is right under the nose of the King Air. Darlington Bay and Keewatin are visible in the middle distance. Kenora is at the extreme left, by the windshield wiper.

Norman, Safety Bay, Coney Island.

We got one last picture just before we made our turn over Kenora to approach the airport. Wind and warm temperatures are working hard to expand the areas of open water near town. On the other hand, further out, in places where the ice cover is unbroken, it’s only weakening slowly.

We now have more open water than we had on this date in 2016 or 2015. In fact, this time last year we were having a cold snap, with wind chills equivalent to -21ºC, and actual temperatures stubbornly sitting below freezing.  Even so, we saw the lake completely clear of ice on May 4th. You can use the Archive Widget to see my April reports from 2014, 2015, or 2016. (That’s assuming you’re looking at the full website, not an email bulletin or a mobile version.)

Barring a really cold snap, we should see the ice go rapidly over the next ten or fifteen days. A couple of weeks ago, I would have said Lake of the Woods might be ice free around May 7th. Looking at the forecast today, I would guess closer to May 1st, perhaps earlier if our luck holds.

March 23, 2016: Better Light

Today I flew into Kenora from the north again, as I just did on Monday, so I really didn’t expect to see much change. The light was better, with sunny skies, so I snapped off a couple of shots as we approached the airport.

Winnipeg River

Winnipeg River

Looking north down the Winnipeg River, you can see ice beginning to yield along the Big Stretch. Gun Lake, left of center in the middle distance, is still covered in white ice.

Click on these photographs to see larger versions and more detail.

Downtown Kenora

Darlington Bay

As we neared town, I managed to get one shot that spanned all the way from downtown Kenora to Keewatin, with a bit of the bypass near the foreground. Despite overnight lows of -10°C or colder, there has been some positive change in the last two days. Darlington Bay is almost clear, ice is softening between Keewatin and Channel Island, and if you use the zoom feature, you can see that water is starting to push out past Channel Island toward Town Island. There are some patches of poor ice developing toward Scotty Island.

The long weekend means I won’t get a chance to grab new aerial photographs until next week. I don’t know if we’ll miss much; the long-term forecast is projecting normal or below normal temperatures well into the first week of April. After unusually warm weather gave us a dramatic start to the thaw in early March, we’ve now fallen back towards a more normal timeline.