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 16, 2018: Same Old

Today’s pictures are almost identical to Friday’s. We came in to Kenora on the same flight path, and nothing has changed.

When there’s a bit more open water developing, I’ll make a greater effort to range further out over the lake. For now, there’s nothing new to see.

Winnipeg River.

The Dalles, Myrtle Rapids. No significant change. In the distance, at the top of the picture, Shoal Lake, (on the right) and the US side of LotW (top center) are still pure white.

The powerline crossing.

No change.

Kenora to Keewatin.

No change.

Safety Bay.

No change. Note that you still cannot get a boat from Safety Bay to Channel Island, and that even the new ice near the Keewatin bridge has not melted.

However, I have high hopes for things to take a turn for the better tomorrow. Right now the forecast is calling for a high on Tuesday of about 7°C, and although temperatures sink a little on Wednesday, by the end of the week, we might be staying at or above freezing overnight. If that holds true, we should start to turn the corner.

Another guest contribution! Here’s a chart from John Harbottle, giving the ice-out dates he’s recorded for Kendall Inlet and Clearwater Bay.

John points out that the dates correspond well with the Bigstone Bay data from Madeleine Dreger. That makes sense to me, because both Bigstone and Clearwater are rather late melters.

Neither satellite has captured a cloud-free picture of Lake of the Woods since April 13, so I have not updated the link. Reminder: the sidebar and links do not appear in the emails, they are a feature of the full Ice Patrol website.

I am flying tomorrow, but I don’t really expect one warmer afternoon to make a visible difference. And remember, daytime highs in the single digits are still below normal for this time of year. But maybe we’ll lose some of that snow cover by the weekend- that would be nice.

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.