May 8, 2022: Satellite Sunday?

Not really. These pictures are from Saturday the 7th, but they missed the deadline for getting posted yesterday.

The good news is, we got a solid pass from Sentinel 2 yesterday. This ESA satellite has a narrow field of view, so it doesn’t often image all of Lake of the Woods*. But when it does, the resolution is a dream.

*For broad coverage, the MODIS cameras on NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites are better, and they pass overhead every day. But their images of Lake of the Woods are small, and cannot be enlarged.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Terra satellite, May 7, 2022, in false colour.

This is a MODIS image from yesterday. The cloud cover is different from the pictures below because Terra and Sentinel 2 made their passes some hours apart.

 

Let’s start with Sentinel 2‘s view of the whole lake, in Short-wave Infrared. You can enlarge this image by clicking on it to see it full screen.

Sentinel 2 image of Lake of the Woods in Short-wave Infrared, May 7, 2022.

I don’t know if the SWIR version of a Sentinel 2 image is directly comparable to a MODIS false-colour image, but it’s very similar.

It’s very clear that ice quality is now deteriorating fast all over Lake of the Woods.

There was cloud in the northern parts of the lake yesterday, spoiling Sentinel 2’s view, so let’s take the opportunity to take a closer look at the south half of the lake, which I seldom get good images of. [It’s too much of a detour for a Kenora-based flight.] Shots of Morson and Sabaskong Bay are regrettably rare.

You can click on the following images to see them full-screen and zoomable.

Southern portion of Lake of the Woods, at higher magnification.

This is from the same image, but zoomed in even more. Click on it and enlarge it all the way to see a lot of detail. I had to cut it off just north of Big Narrows to keep the file size below the 3GB limit set by WordPress. Even then, it took me two tries to upload it to their server.

As I was preparing this post, Terry and Mary James used the comment box to ask about whether their interpretation of what the MODIS images showed at Roughrock Lake was correct.

So l’m going to show them (and you) what Sentinel 2 can really do! Note the scale at the bottom right corner. 1km is about as tight as it will go. You can try to enlarge it further, but the image gets fuzzier.

Roughrock Lake, Big Sand Lake, Little Sand Lake.

Also, this timely comment from Bargeman, via email:

I live in Minaki and have had a boat in for the last week. My wife and I broke up the last bit of ice in the middle of Little Sand Lake to Rough Rock Narrows on Thursday. So the river is open from dam to dam. This has been the quickest opening (from looking very dubious about ice being gone by May long) I can remember. The water rising creating cracks everywhere around the shorelines combined with the strong current has increased open water way quicker….thank goodness. We have Sand Lake Outpost on Big Sand Lake at it is looking like our long weekend guests will be able to stay at our place on Deadman’s Island, just north of Harbour Island.

Hope this answers your question, Terry!

So while I’m at it, let’s see if I can find something for Pete Giroux. He has a place on the Manitou Stretch, east of Lake of the Woods.

East of Sioux Narrows and Highway 71.

I think you’re in luck, Pete: this is right at the eastern edge of Sentinel 2’s latest swath.

I was also curious to see how things were looking further north, up by Red Lake and Trout Lake, but that area was covered with cloud.

Recent warm–and now moist–weather are moving things along very quickly. I tried take a look back at 2014, which was the last time we had such a late thaw. MODIS images are not available for May 6 through 9 because of cloud. The May 5 image shows only a little of the lake, and the May 10 image is blurry, but I think I can say we’re pulling ahead of spring 2014.

Aerial photos I took at around these dates in 2014 were shot in rainy weather, and are hard to make out, but I think they also show we’re doing better.

That would be good, because the lake wasn’t entirely clear until May 21 that year.

I’m confident we’re on track to keep up with Sean’s recent prediction of May 18, and since the weather has been warmer than the forecast he was working with, he may be able revise his graphs again next week.

Keep in mind that when we talk about ice-out on Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol, we mean the whole lake, entirely free of ice. Significant areas are opening to boat traffic every day, and things will be improving daily. One of the bottlenecks we face right now is a lack of  Marina access. Northern Harbour is situated on deep water, and is still iced in. Two Bears Marina, in Keewatin, has soft ice all around their docks and were not operating yet when I stopped by yesterday. Devil’s Gap Marina might have enough water to launch boats, but their open water doesn’t reach very far yet.

I haven’t surveyed a full list of marinas, but if you’re a marina operator, and you have news, feel free to use the comments form on the ABOUT page to let us know how things are shaping up for you. Are you launching yet, or opening soon?

Do you have friends who would want to follow Ice Patrol? I often get emails from people asking to get on the list. THERE IS NO LIST! To follow Ice Patrol and get the emails, visit the Ice Patrol home page and look for the FOLLOW button at the right side. Click it, and you’ll get an email every time I post a new article. If you change your mind, visit again and simply UNFOLLOW.

However, those emails do not tell the whole story. For one thing, if I update a post, a new email does not go out. If you want more, including updates, comments, links, access to archives and satellite images, and an FAQ page that is helpful to new users, visit the actual website.

To ensure that you see updates, use the refresh button on your browser to reload the page.

The emails are timely and keep you updated, but the website is the real thing.

 

May 7, 2022: Satellite Saturday

We’ve had almost a whole week of sunny weather, so at least one of the NASA satellites got a picture for five days running.

I was hoping to put them together as an animated gif or a slide show, but it didn’t work well.

I’ll just show them in reverse order so you can compare.

If you need help getting oriented, go to the last one, May 3, and click on it. You’ll see a version with some landmarks labelled.

May 7.

May 6.

May 5.

May 4.

May 3.

The amount of progress in five days is impressive. The amount of open water is very different in the first and last pictures. But it’s the steady change in the colour (and strength) of the ice that is most important.

While we’re looking at things from overhead, Tom Lindstrom went cruising by in an airliner today and took a series of pictures from the cockpit. Many of them turned out kind of dark; I think his camera was dazzled by the brightness of the ice. I’ve enhanced the contrast on these two to improve the difference between islands and water, so they look a little odd, and the ice colour is not correct.

You can click on these pictures to see a larger version. Then zoom in, because these pictures are big

Kenora waters.

This picture covers everything from Kenora a the top left, to Second Channel at the bottom right. Zoom in and you can see the last patch of candled ice in Kenora Bay.

From Safety Bay to Bigstone Bay.

This second shot includes a wider area. Bigstone Bay is at the top right, Middle Island and Scotty Island are near the corner, Welcome Channel and Poplar Bay are halfway down the right side, and White Partridge is at the bottom.

The weather:

We hit at least 20°C yesterday, and it’s 22°C as I write this, exceeding both the forecast highs and seasonal averages. But just so you know, the record high for this date is 31.7°, set in 1953!

Now we’re supposed to get a couple of days of rain. Because weekend. But wet weather is not entirely bad. High humidity can have a powerful melting effect on ice. This is due to the energy released when water vapour condenses onto ice or snow. The humidity actually does more damage than the rain.

However, the rainy weather means we won’t get any satellite coverage until Tuesday, and it may not be good enough for my pilot friends to take pictures, either. So we’ll have a bit of an information blackout for a few days. If you go boating, you could use the comments form on the ABOUT page to let us know how you made out, and how far you got.

Signs of Spring:

I finally found time to put my summer tires on today.

Flies are out. Midges will be next, I think, and a friend mentioned that with all this standing water, the mosquitoes may get off to a roaring start this year.

I can’t find a bulletin on a planned date for the removal of the Coney Island pedestrian bridge yet. It gets scheduled for removal when the ice clears out between Kenora and Devil’s Gap, leaving the bridge as the only obstacle to boat traffic. That hasn’t happened yet.

 

April 27, 2022: Clear Skies

After several days of poor weather, skies finally lifted yesterday. That brought the aerial photographers out.

Tom Lindstrom, one of my airline pilot friends, was passing overhead in a 737 yesterday, and although Kenora was covered by cloud when he went by, he found Dryden in the clear.

Here’s a look at how things are going on Wabigoon Lake.

You can click on this picture to see a much larger, zoomable version.

The only open water I can see is in the Wabigoon River. Even the smaller lakes around the Dryden Regional Airport are still ice-covered. This shows that we are still at the stage where melting is only happening due to water flow.

Tom Lindstrom has contributed photos to Ice Patrol before, and knew I was anxious for fresh shots this spring. Thanks, Tom!

We also have a new contributor. Scott Benson has been an Ice Patrol follower for years, and yesterday he sent me photographs of Lake of the Woods taken from his Piper PA-12 on skis.

You can click on these pictures to see much larger, zoomable versions.

Looking East across Big Narrows, with the twin fingers of Ferris Island near the centre of the shot.

Don’t be fooled by the subtle difference between ice and water in the distance. If you zoom in for a closer look, it’s almost all ice.

Tranquil Channel, looking north at De Noyon Island. Big Narrows Island stretches out from under the wing strut, and there’s more open water to the north of it, in the main channel.

There’s a clear pattern here. There’s only open water in passages with current. The vast majority of the lake is still ice-covered.

Redwater Bay, south of Tranquil Channel, looking east. The current has opened a little water around Kennedy Island.

The west end of Long Bay, with part of Yellow Girl Bay at the right edge. Most of these islands are nameless on my charts, except for Pewabic Island near the right edge.

Tom Bowman was the first person to specify the exact location of this photo.

Water at the north west end of Yellow Girl Bay. South Strawberry Island is at the left edge, and Fog Island is in the distance above the centre of the frame.

Several people pitched in to help me figure out the location for this photo. Thanks to Jim Richardson, David Lindstrom and Doug LeBlanc for pointing me to Yellow Girl Bay. That led me to nearby parts of Long Bay to figure out the previous picture.

Thanks, Scott. I hope you’ll send more pictures in the coming weeks.

Now, let’s talk about how the thaw is progressing. We’ve been basically stalled for a month, with little progress during April. To illustrate that point, let’s compare yesterday’s satellite images to one from a month ago.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite, April 26, 2022.

 

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite, March 26, 2022.

Yes, there’s a little more open water now, but in many years, the change during that month would have been profound. Sometimes, total.

Okay, so it’s been cold recently. What about looking forward? The good news is, we’ve probably arrived at the Inflection Date. Finally. The seven day forecast says we’ll have above-freezing temperatures every day, and we could flirt with double-digit highs for a few of those days. Nighttime lows will be nearly always above freezing, but not by much.

That means the air temperatures will be mild enough to start actually melting ice, and it’s about time. The sun’s rays are powerful this time of year, and the days are long, so I hope to see steady progress. That’s the good news.

Working against us are two significant factors. One, it was a long, cold winter, and we probably still have a lot of ice. Two, the refreshingly mild temperatures in our forecast are not all that warm compared to seasonal norms. An average high for today’s date would be 12.6°C. The record high, set in 1952, was 28.9°C!

The long-term forecast holds out hope for some slightly better than average temperatures starting around May 5th, but the best number on there so far is a shot at hitting 15°C on one day. That’s not exactly a heat wave.

So if we have to thaw the entire lake with only so-so warmth, it’s still going to take some time. I heard from Sean Cockrem yesterday, and he’s all set to start graphing the data based on today as Inflection. I look forward to seeing his prediction, but even with the tendency of late thaws to move fast, I’m not expecting a miracle.

April 17, 2022: Aqua’s Back

After being offline for over two weeks, I’m delighted to see that NASA’s Aqua satellite is back on the job.

So we’ll have Satellite Saturday a few hours late.

If you click on these images, they won’t enlarge, but for the first few, you’ll see a version with some place labels added.

April 16, 2022 false colour image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite.

This is how the lake looks after that fresh snowfall. The picture’s a little blurry, but I don’t think that’s a problem with Aqua‘s MODIS camera. It might be due to a thin veil of cloud.

We’ve had several days of cloud and snow, so to see what the lake looked like before the snowstorm, we have to go back all the way to April 8.

That’s during the period when Aqua was not transmitting, so here’s the image from Terra‘s matching MODIS camera.

April 8, 2022 false colour image of Lake of the Woods from Terra satellite.

Last week, there was no open water at the mouth of the Rainy River at the south end of the lake. That’s a positive development, but it seems to be the only significant change.

Now let’s take a look at some previous years, at around today’s date, starting with last year.

April 15, 2021 false colour image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite.

Last year the lake was ice free by April 24th, so it’s no surprise that it looked very different.

2020 is worth a look because the thaw got off to a late start that year, with an Inflection Date of April 22.

April 17, 2020 false colour image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite.

2020 was a weird year. Warm temperatures in March gave way to miserable cold in early April, and we had to reconsider the inflection date, changing it from an optimistic March 26 to April 22. Even so, the ice was a lot weaker by this point.

I’ll cut to the chase and show you what the lake looked like in mid-April of 2014, the worst spring since I started keeping track. I wasn’t using satellite images back then, so this shot has never appeared on Ice Patrol before, but the University of Wisconsin keeps their entire archive online.

April 16, 2014 false colour image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite.

This shot shows an ice-covered lake, but large areas of that ice look bare, and perhaps thin. Overall, it looked better then than now, but if there’s a ray of hope, it’s that the Rainy River hadn’t started the ice away from the south shore yet. In 2014, the ice wasn’t gone until May 21.

The weather does not look promising in the short term. As I write this (in the middle of the night), we’re expecting overnight temperatures to sink to -10°C, and for today’s high to be just around zero. That won’t melt much snow, and in fact they’re predicting flurries today, with an accumulation of perhaps another 5cm.

Back in March, I thought we were heading for a latish thaw, with the lake ice-free by somewhere in the May 11-15 range. That no longer seems very likely.  To thaw the lake in four weeks, we’d need some warmer weather. Historically, temperatures at this time of year run to daytime highs of about 10°C, and overnight lows of right around freezing.  But the fourteen day outlook is for things to stay cooler than that, with more cloudy days than sunny ones. I now think it’s more likely that some ice will persist to around May 16-22. There’s a chance that this could be the latest thaw in decades.

Keep in mind that that’s for the lake to be entirely clear of ice. There should large areas of the lake open for cautious boating before then. Water-skiing, not so much.

Signs of spring: I saw a bald eagle over Cameron Bay yesterday.

April 9, 2022: Satellite Saturday

A few Saturdays have gone by without the regular Satellite Saturday feature. There are a couple of reasons for this. Most worrisome, one of my two favourite satellites is offline at the moment. NASA’s Aqua satellite–which carries one of the MODIS cameras–has gone into Secure Mode. Maybe this has to do with solar activity, or perhaps it’s a technical problem of a different sort. At any rate, it hasn’t delivered any pictures since the end of March. NASA technicians are trying to get it functioning again.

The other reason is cloud cover. We’ve had a ton of it. So poor Terra, working without its twin, has had few chances to image Lake of the Woods. We finally had clear skies for a while yesterday, and Terra was able to capture this.

April 8th MODIS false-colour image from NASA’s Terra satellite.

If you click on this image, it won’t get bigger. But you will see a version with some location tags.

Remember, in the false-colour images, ice is pale blue and open water is black. Aside from the Winnipeg River, flowing towards the top of the picture, the only open water of note is the bit near town, and some at Big Narrows, just left of the center of the frame. There might be something over at Whitefish Bay, to the right of center in this picture. Significantly, there’s no water showing at south end of the lake, not even at the mouth of the Rainy River.

At times like this, I get curious to see how the situation compares to past years.

Here’s a mosaic I made up for today’s presentation at Common Ground. I had fun, by the way.

Common Ground – Volume III was released today. It contains all the stories of the Lake of the Woods Area from the last five Common Ground storytelling events. Copies are available at the Kenora Public Library and the Lake of the Woods Museum.

If you click on this picture you’ll see it full-screen. The resolution of the mosaic is 1920×1200.

Comparable false-colour images from 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, 2021 and 2022.

These pictures are all from the end of March in recent years.

2012 was one of our earliest melts, as you can clearly see here. 2014 was the year Ice Patrol became a website, and it was dreadful: there’s so much snow in the woods that you can barely distinguish the lake. 2017 shows open water at Rainy River, Big Narrows and the Winnipeg River. There’s bare farmland on the American side, too. 2018 wasn’t ice free until May 14, and it was still very icy in late March. 2021 shows much less snow in the forest, and the thaw was over by April 24th. This year most closely resembles 2018. We shall see.

Also worth mentioning: there’s been very little change between March 27 and April 8. That’s almost a fortnight without visible progress.

The future of NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites is limited. They were designed to operate until “the early 2020’s”. Terra is low on fuel, and cannot correct it’s orbit like before. Aqua is having a time-out.

So I am exploring a new portal that offers satellite imagery from the European Space Agency’s Sentinel satellites, as well as Landsat satellites from NASA / USGS* and some others. I haven’t got the full hang of it yet, but I have made a start. I have learned that Sentinel 2 (there are 8 or 9 Sentinel satellites, and they are not identical) offers a Short-wave Infrared view that is similar to the images above. The good news is, the resolution is much higher. The bad news is, quite often the satellite only images narrow strips of Lake of the Woods. It’s a trade-off, you see: because the camera zooms in for good detail, it cannot easily cover huge swathes of ground. Or lake, in our case.

But here’s one recent success. You can click on this image to see a full-screen version. 

Sentinel 2 Short-wave infrared image of Lake of the Woods. March 28, 2022.

You might want to compare this image to the picture at the lower right of the mosaic above. That MODIS picture was taken just one day earlier, so you can get an idea of how the colour scheme compares. It seems clear that open water is black, but I’m not sure about the medium blues. Thin ice, slush, or surface water over ice?

I look forward to getting more familiar with this resource.

*The nine LandSat satellites are a joint project of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the United States Geological Service (USGS).

The weather: we are having another warm spell, but the forecast is for significant snowfall next week, and cold temperatures into the Easter weekend. We have not yet reached the Inflection Point, because although we’ve had some above-freezing days, we keep sliding back to colder (and below normal) temperatures. An average high for today’s date is 7°C, and an average overnight low is about -4°C. That would put us on the right side of the Inflection Point, but we continue to fall short.

So we’re off to a late start. Other years with late Inflection Dates have run to fairly rapid thaws, because April weather tends to be pretty warm.

Here’s the Pancake Graph so you can see how this spring fits into that pattern.

You can click on this graph to make it larger and clearer.

Inflection to Thaw Calendar for 2003 to 2021.

We had a nasty cold winter, so if we don’t hit Inflection until after Easter, we’re going to need some good warm weather to stay on track for my first guess, which was that we’d be ice-free around May 11-15.

Signs of spring: I saw Mallards today, and the gulls are squawking. I have not yet seen a skunk or a bear. The bear part worries me a bit. We had a lot of bear activity in town last year because the berry crop was poor. That hard winter may have been too much for underfed hibernators. I fear there may have been a significant die-off. The snowdrift on my deck that was once the size of my Tucson is now down to just a couple of meagre* snow-shovels worth. Will it be able to hold on until next week’s reinforcements arrive?

I use mostly Canadian spellings: colour, favourite, meagre, and so on. I once had a short story rejected by an American magazine’s slush reader for “spelling mistakes.” This is my revenge.

 

 

 

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 17, 2021: Satellite Saturday / Travel Restrictions

Warm temperatures and sunny skies meant both Aqua and Terra satellites were able to get MODIS images of Lake of the Woods today.

Here’s what Terra saw this morning.

You can click on this image to see a version with tags for landmarks.

Terra satellite’s MODIS image for April 17, 2021, in false colour.

Looks like we’re down to about 10% ice cover now, but most of what remains is located where it still prevents boaters from reaching popular areas.

Here’s how it looked to Aqua in the afternoon, with less cloud cover.

Aqua satellite’s MODIS image for April 17, 2021, in false colour.

There are visible differences. For starters, the ice clinging to the lake’s south shore is markedly reduced. Perhaps more subtle, the northern ice is also shrinking by the hour. Take a close look at the ice sheet in Bigstone Bay north of Hay Island. It’s faded a lot today. I’d say the ice on Shoal Lake has thinned, too, but only a little.

And just in case you find the false colour version hard to assess, here’s the same image in true colour. [and with no infrared component]

Aqua satellite’s MODIS image for April 17, 2021, in true colour.

While Bigstone Bay is undergoing rapid change, things seem more stable on the Manitou, at least as seen from space.

Devon Ostir sent me a picture from his Dock Cam on Hare Island, looking out at the receding ice on the Manitou.

View south from Hare Island.

He says there’s been a big change in the last day or two. Thanks Devon.

Change of subject.

By now you’ve probably heard that Ontario is closing its borders with Manitoba and Quebec for all but essential travel, starting tomorrow. Here’s a link to a CBC News story that covers Ontario’s new restrictions in general, including a link to the Order in Council that pertains to travel from Manitoba and Quebec.

And here’s the official wording of Section 2 of the Order in Council.

Certain travel into Ontario from Manitoba and Quebec prohibited
No person shall travel into Ontario from Manitoba or Quebec unless,
(a) the person’s principal residence is in Ontario;
(b) the person is moving to Ontario in order to make their principal residence in Ontario;
(c) the person is travelling through Ontario without unnecessary stops to reach their principal residence in another jurisdiction;
(d) the person is travelling into or through Ontario by means of an international or interprovincial bus, train, ferry, or flight;
(e) the person is travelling to perform work in Ontario;
(f) the person is transporting goods into or through Ontario as part of the operation of a business that involves the transportation of goods;
(g) the person’s health makes it necessary to travel into Ontario to obtain health care or social services;
(h) the person is travelling in a vehicle that is transporting or that will transport a person in Ontario to or from a hospital or health care facility in Manitoba or Quebec;
(i) the person is being transported from a hospital or health care facility in Manitoba or Quebec, whether by ambulance or by any other means;
(j) the person is,
(i) in the care of a children’s aid society in Ontario pursuant to a court order or a written agreement,
(ii) in the care of a person subject to the supervision of a children’s aid society in Ontario pursuant to a court order or a written agreement, or
(iii) at least 16 years old and no more than 21 years old and receiving care, services or support pursuant to an agreement with a children’s aid society in Ontario;
(k) the person must enter Ontario to exercise custody or access rights contained in an agreement;
(l) the person must enter Ontario to comply with an order contained in a decision or judgment of a court or tribunal, or as otherwise required by law;
(m) the person is travelling into Ontario for the purpose of exercising an Aboriginal or treaty right as recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982;
(n) the person is travelling into Ontario to respond to a critical incident, including travel for the purpose of,
(i) preventing injury or illness to persons,
(ii) preventing damage to property, or
(iii) performing a necessary action to respond to the critical incident; or
(o) the travel is necessary for a humanitarian or compassionate reason, such as,
(i) providing care or services to a person who requires them due to their state of health,
(ii) attending on a person who is dying, or
(iii) attending a funeral.

From the point of view of a cottage owner, that’s very restrictive. I’ve only copied out Section 2 here, but you can use the link to the Order in Council above to read the PDF in its entirety. Section 1 is about who can police the act, and Section 3 is about the obligations of people who are stopped under its provisions.