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 6, 2022: Fresh Aerials

Justin Martin, my former Chief Pilot, was flying again today and had time to snap a few quick shots.

So here’s the speed tour. You can click on these pictures to see them enlarged.

Looking west over Laurenson’s Lake.

Note that Laurenson’s Lake is still frozen. There is actually a little water at the east end, off the bottom of the picture.

Devil’s Gap and Treaty Island.

Ice is yielding at both the inlet (left) and outlet (right) sides of Devil’s gap now. Open water is spreading into Rat Portage Bay, although Gun Club Island, as usual, is staying iced in a bit longer.

The plane swung left a little to show the Manitou better.

Town Island and the Manitou.

Following Keewatin Channel out to the Manitou is one of the main ways to reach open water from Kenora, and it opens earlier than Devil’s Gap. I think next week Scotty Island will be reachable by boat.

Big Narrows and Wiley Point.

Open water continues to expand all around Big Narrows. Looks like Wiley Point is getting its toes wet now.

The Barrier Islands, seen from the south side.

Justin took several pictures of the Barrier Islands area around the Elbow. I like this one best because you can see how the water is reaching north towards Middle Island and (eventually) town. The big patch of water at the left is the Elbow, and if you zoom in you can see that things are improving at French Narrows on the right.

Now that the ice is turning grey, the pressure ridges really stand out.

Thanks Justin!

Another sunny day, another MODIS shot. I think Aqua got better light quality than Terra today.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite, May 6, 2022, in false colour.

Open water continues to expand, and ice is softening all over the lake. It looks as if shorelines may be letting go, especially in the south half of the lake.

Signs of Spring:

On Kenora Bay, the ice is completely candled now. It will be gone very soon.

Motorcycles. I saw three today, and just heard another. Remember, riders need to avoid both potholes and patches of loose sand. Give them room in case they have to brake or evade.

Ticks. Found my first tick today, on my belly after walking Ebony. Yay.

Ebony gets refreshed after overheating.

No ticks on her, though, we checked. This is important because of Lyme Disease, which took the life of Piper, our previous dog. There’s a now a new option in tick preventative pills. Ask your vet.

April 24, 2021: Not Satellite Saturday.

I’ve been posting Satellite pictures all week, and there aren’t any new ones because it was cloudy. Still, yesterday’s weather wasn’t as bad as it might have been. I saw only a little snow falling, and it did not stick.

The weather was good enough for Justin Martin to go flying in the afternoon, and he tracked down some tiny fragments of ice that made it through Thursday night and Friday morning.

You can click on these pictures to see the large versions.

The Manitou.

Naturally, the ice is in the same area as before, it’s only drifted a little. In the Manitou, this remnant of an ice road has stuck itself to the north shore of Mather Island. The photo looks north east across the Slate Islands, with Scotty Island and Middle Island on the right in the middle distance. Near the horizon on the left, it’s snowing.

South of the Barrier Islands.

As to the ice pans that were south of the Barrier Islands, just two scraps lasted until Friday.

None of this ice is inconveniencing anyone. It’s really just of technical interest to ice nerds like me who want to know exactly what day the ice was gone. For my purposes, I’m going to record today as the day Lake of the Woods was completely clear of ice. I’m not sure about Shoal Lake; if there’s any ice there, it’s probably too inconspicuous to see from a distance.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment to get a vaccine.

 

April 23, 2021: Last Ice

This is yesterday afternoon’s false-colour image from NASA’s Aqua satellite.

If you click on this image, you’ll see a version with landmark tags.

Aqua satellite’s MODIS image from April 22, 2021, in false colour.

There’s no longer any ice visible anywhere, not even on Shoal Lake or Big Sand Lake. Not from space, anyway.

Justin Martin took these pictures at sunset yesterday. They show how much the ice degraded during Thursday’s warmth. There are just two patches of ice remaining on the Manitou.

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

The Manitou, The Slate Islands and Shammis Island.

This is from over the Manitou, looking south west at Shammis Island. In the foreground are the trailing end of the Slate Island chain, and at the right edge of the frame are the larger islands in the group: Charlie Island, St. George Island and Palisade Island. This ice is disintegrating fast.

Slate Island, The Elbow.

Looking more directly south at the Elbow from over Scotty Island, there’s a second patch of ice near Slate Island. It’s barely holding together.

Justin flew over the Barrier Islands to take this picture.

Oliver Island, Crescent Island.

From over Oliver Island, which was visible in the distance in the previous photo, here’s what’s left of the ice south of the Barrier Islands.  The ice here looks as weak as wet tissue paper.

Justin didn’t expect any of this ice to last the night, and I agree with him. Temperatures stayed well above freezing until around 3:00am last night, and I would guess that this ice is all gone by now.

It might take a day or two to confirm this. Today’s forecast is for wet snow, so it won’t be good flying  or boating weather, and the satellites won’t be able to see anything either.

April 22, 2021: Even Less Ice

This morning’s satellite shot is a little blurry, but you can still make out some ice on Shoal Lake.

Click on this to see a version with landmarks tagged.

Terra satellite’s MODIS image for April 22, 2021, in false colour.

Justin Martin sent me another batch of aerial photos today.

You can click on these to see a larger version with more detail.

Scotty Island.

This is Scotty Island as seen from the Manitou, looking north east towards town. Minor patches of ice at the lower left, by Slate Island, and at the right side by Strawberry Island.

Cat Island. Strawberry Island.

The view west from over Middle Island, which is partially visible at the bottom of the frame. The double patch of ice by Strawberry Island is the same one as in the previous photo, but with better lighting.

Next we’ll take a closer look at those ice pans in the distance.

The Manitou.

Further westward, this is the view down the Manitou, with the Slate Islands* in the middle and Whiskey Island to their right. At the bottom of the frame is the south west tip of Scotty. Still isolated patches of ice here, too.

*Slate Island (singular) is near Scotty Island. The Slate Islands (plural, a chain) are just slightly further west in the middle of the Manitou.

There are also two Galt Islands. One is near Devil’s Gap on Lake of the Woods, and the other is on Shoal Lake, near Martinique Island, which is quite separate from the similarly named island in the Caribbean.

Thompson Island, Poplar Bay, The Tangle.

Looking north, with Keewatin visible in the distance if you zoom in. That patch by Hough’s Island is about as weak as a sheet of ice can get and still hold together.

Quarry Island, Queen Bee Island, Sultana Island.

Here we’re looking east into Bald Indian Bay at the left, and Pine Portage Bay at the right. That’s Heaps Point at the bottom of the picture. A lonely and desperate pan of ice clings to Kipling Island. It’s doomed.

Now down to the Barrier Islands.

The Elbow.

Looking south over the Elbow, so we have Allie Island at the left and Shammis Island at the right. Oliver Island is just left of center. It looks like most of the pans in this area have shrunk, but survived another day.

We’ve done better than expected today, reaching 16°C this afternoon.  Let’s hope we can beat the odds tomorrow, too, because there’s talk of snow during the day and an overnight low of -5° Friday night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

April 22, 2021: Scattered Pans

There’s still a little ice, but it won’t impede boaters much.

I’ll start with a satellite image from yesterday morning.

If you click on this image, you’ll see landmarks tagged.

Terra satellite’s MODIS image for April 21, 2021, in false colour.

It looks as if the south end of the lake is completely clear now, but there’s still significant ice on Shoal Lake, and some small patches around the Manitou and the Barrier Islands.

Now fast forward to yesterday evening, when Justin Martin snapped a few shots at sunset.

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

Downtown Kenora, Devil’s Gap.

The area around Kenora is clear. Even Gun Club Island, at the right edge of the frame, and Rogers Island, near the center, which are late to thaw because of ice roads, are open.

The Manitou.

Out on the Manitou, only scattered pans remain. This shot looks south east from over Welcome Channel, with Thompson Island and Wolf Island in the foreground. Whiskey Island is at the right edge, and Scotty Island is at the left. Right in the middle of the picture, glowing in the sunlight, is Manitou Island. As you can see, there are some ice pans out there, but it looks as if you could simply go around them if they were in your way.

The Barrier Islands.

Meanwhile, the ice by the Barrier Islands is also disintegrating. This shot looks south east with Shammis Island in the center and Mather Island to the left. Beyond that are Allie Island and the Elbow. There are patches of ice both north (lower left corner) and south (right of center) of Shammis, but they don’t amount to much.

 

Shoal Lake.

Here, we’re looking south west down Shoal Lake with Helldiver Bay in the foreground, and Martinique and Galt Islands near the middle of the shot. There’s still some pretty extensive ice on Shoal, and it’s common for Shoal Lake to clear a few days later than Lake of the Woods.

Today’s forecast is for sunny skies, south breezes, and a high of about 13°C. I think that’ll just about finish off the ice on Lake of the Woods. I kind of hope so, because tonight the temperatures are expected to drop to about 1°C, and then stay there all day Friday. With snow, probably.

I’m going to put my patio furniture out on the deck today, but I’ll be bringing the cushions in this evening.

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 16, 2021: Today’s Photos / News

These aerial photographs were taken just before noon today, by MAG Canada‘s Justin Martin.

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

Hay Island.

Looking north west along Hay Island towards Middle Island and Scotty Island. Needle Point is at the lower right corner.

Pine Portage Bay, Sultana Island, Bald Indian Bay.

This same pan of ice was photographed yesterday afternoon by Quinn Wilson. It looks thinner now. It also shrank noticeably in the span of twenty hours, and lost some of the smaller pans that surrounded it.

Pine Portage Bay, including Northern Harbour.

I waited a bit to see if I got any late arriving photos, or if one of the satellites managed to catch a break in the cloud cover, but it looks like that’s it for today.

Oh. No it’s not. I forgot to check the news today. This Covid-19 update about provincial border checkpoints from CBC News. 

We’re just days away from full ice-out now, and some popular areas of the lake are already reachable.

For the rest, a lot may depend on our weekend weather. As if to keep the suspense going, it’s a mixed bag. The Weather Network says we’re looking at a crisp -7°C tonight, but temperatures should rebound to 10° by Saturday afternoon.