May 11, 2022: Turning Point

With half the ice gone, I stop showing where the water is expanding, and start looking at where the ice is shrinking.

Technical notes:

I have added a link to the Navionics online map of Lake of the Woods to the right-hand sidebar, next door to the Satellite links. If you don’t recognize some of the place names I use, this zoomable map is a great help. When I’m writing Ice Patrol posts, I keep it open on a separate tab in case I need to check something. This is way easier than unfolding and refolding my many marine charts.

Ice Patrol is having some of its heaviest traffic ever. Recently, it’s been averaging over 2000 visits a day. Notably, there is a higher than normal proportion of visitors from the USA. I think they’ve missed us. Come on up!

I received more pictures yesterday than I could process. Here are Josh Broten’s lovely pictures from the south side of the lake.

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

Looking SE over Buffalo Point. The ice is gone from Warroad to Buffalo and then narrows as you get to Rocky Point.

Over Buffalo Point looking NW. You can see Moose Lake is ice free.

Over Sand Point Bay looking SE. you can see of in the distance how the the lake is ice free from Rocky Point to Rainy River.

Looking NE over the NW Angle. Mostly open water from Oak Island and north.

Over Windigo Island looking NE. For the most part it is open water all the way past Tranquil Channel and Big Narrows.

Looking westward you can see Shoal Lake is still iced over.

Over Royal Island looking NE toward Kenora. Tranquil channel and Big Narrows are in the center of the picture.

Over Tranquil channel looking east over Sunset Channel.

Over Crescent Island looking north towards Kenora.

Over Yellow Girl Point looking Northerly towards Kenora. Lots of of Ice still between Kenora and the Alneau.

Another look to the west over sunset channel.

Looking east over Smith Island with Sioux Narrows in the distance. Lots of open water.

Josh is one of my favourite contributors. He edits his own pictures and even provides captions. Thanks, Josh!

Between Tom Hutton’s coverage of the east and north parts of the lake shown in yesterday’s post, and Josh Broten’s flight over the south and central parts, we’ve checked almost everything except the Ptarmigan and Clearwater Bays in the north west corner and Morson in the south east.

It looks as if we are now on track to have one of the fastest (and latest) thaws of this century. Once half the ice has melted, the remainder is floating loose at the mercy of the wind. With mid-May temperatures, it should be only a matter of days until it’s all gone. I looked back at 2014 to search for pictures showing an equivalent amount of ice cover at the same time of year, and I think we’re just five to seven days from total ice-out. A quick check of the MODIS archives from that similarly late spring suggests the same sort of timeline.

If this does become the fastest thaw in my records, there will be two main reasons. First, when the thaw starts late, it’s likely to run into warmer temperatures in late spring. So late starting thaws generally run faster than the ones that begin in March. Secondly, we’ve had an extraordinary amount of wet weather. A string of Colorado lows set records for precipitation in April and I think early May, too. And while you might be tempted to credit the rain for the rapid melt, meteorologists insist that it’s actually the high humidity that does the heavy lifting.

Signs of spring:

The floatplanes have been flocking in. River Air’s Caravan has been joined by a turbine Otter and a Beaver.

On a recent drive from the Kenora waterfront to Keewatin, I spotted another small plane near Q-104, meaning that I saw more  floatplanes in the water than boats. Most of the marinas had no boats at all at the docks, or just one or two. I expect that to change rapidly, as I have noticed a lot of boat trailers in the last few days, and the ice is letting go at many of the docks.

If you’re planning to put your boat in the water soon, don’t forget your safety equipment. Water traffic will be light at first, so if you have motor trouble you might have to wait a while for help. It is wise to take warm clothing with you.

Time for my annual reminder that when float planes are landing or taking off, they have the right of way over boats, because those stages of flight are critical. Safety Bay is a designated water aerodrome, so be alert there. Once a plane is on the water, it becomes a boat in the eyes of the law, and has the same right-of-way as other boat traffic. Having said that, floatplanes have no brakes and limited steering*, so I suggest giving them a wide berth.

*If you want to know how good a floatplane pilot is, you don’t watch them land. You watch them dock!

 

 

May 10, 2022: It’s Going Fast

Yesterday, Ice Patrol and I took a day off, as poor weather meant I had no pictures to share. I felt a warm spell and then wind and wet weather should have made a big difference, but I had no way to see how much, and I didn’t want to speculate.

But today the sun came out, and we got some answers. Both Aqua and Terra satellites got good shots with their MODIS equipment today.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Aqua satellite, May 10, 2022, in false colour.

There are big changes visible in the few hours between Aqua’s pass and Terra‘s.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Terra satellite, May 10, 2022, in false colour.

It looks as if the lake has lost about half of its ice. Normally, I’d say things should go fast from this point, but they already are!

The nice weather brought out the pilots, too, and I received a lot of pictures today. Tom Hutton had a chance to take a great series of pictures of the east side of the lake as he flew from Fort Frances to Kenora in sunny (but very bumpy) conditions.

You can click on Tom’s pictures to see larger, zoomable versions with more detail.

Nestor Falls.

Tom’s route brought him to Lake of the Woods at roughly Nestor Falls. Lots of water here now.

Then Whitefish Bay, which we seldom get pictures of.

Whitefish Bay.

In this shot, it looks like Whitefish Bay has entirely melted. But we need to take a closer look at the northern part of the bay.

Northern part of Whitefish Bay. Sioux Narrows is visible at the right, below the propeller blade tip.

Turns out there’s still extensive ice on the north half of Whitefish.

Whitefish Narrows.

Whitefish Narrows is just below the blade tip. These narrows are actually early to thaw, but this year it has taken some time for that open water to spread into Whitefish Bay.

West end of Long Bay and Yellow Girl Bay.

Still ice in Yellow Girl Bay. And plenty more to the north west.

The Barrier Islands and the Eastern Peninsula.

This shows almost the full stretch of the Barrier Islands. The Elbow is at the left, and French Narrows are near the middle. Lots of ice south of the Barrier Islands, which is typical. The distant ice is the Manitou.

West Manitou.

In the picture above, Birch Island is above the centre, and part of Whisky Island is at the right edge. Almost all ice here, as this is another late-thawing area.

 

East Manitou.

We’re getting closer to Kenora now. The curved beach at Scotty Island is just at the right edge of the frame.

Wildcat Island and Anchor Island.

Wildcat is in the centre. The foreground ice touches Hough Island and sticks to the shore of Thompson Island at the left. Holmstrom’s Marsh still looks icy.

Treaty Island.

Treaty Island dominates this picture, with Shragge’s Island just by the propeller spinner.* Notice how the ice roads are holding on between Treaty Island and Rogers Island, just above the engine nacelle.** Further left, by the tip of the propeller blade, the ice roads around Gun Club Island in Rat Portage Bay are breaking up and moving around. That’s significant, because Gun Club Island is usually late to break free.

*The shiny cover at the centre of the propeller is called the spinner. It’s like a hubcap, but very firmly attached.

**The streamlined fairings that cover the engines on a twin-engined airplane are the nacelles. On this King Air, the nacelles are painted white.

I wanted to see Pine Portage Bay, because Barb Enders sent me two pictures of Northern Harbour on the weekend. The first was taken just before noon on Friday. The second was taken on Sunday morning, just 46 hours later, and there was a spectacular change in the condition of the ice.

Pine Portage Bay.

Looks like the ice is still holding on there. At the right of the photo, you can see that Bigstone Bay is still ice-covered, too. Slow currents mean that Bigstone usually lags behind.

Our last shot from Tom shows the downtown Kenora waterfront and part of Coney Island. Thanks, Tom!

Coney Island.

There are still sizeable pans of ice south of Coney, around Goat Island and Johnson Island in Rat Portage Bay. Most years, once those were gone, the Coney Island footbridge would be removed to facilitate boat traffic. But not this year.

The Coney Island footbridge was damaged by wind and ice on Monday evening. You can read about it on Kenora Online.

So that’s one sign of spring we’ll have to do without this year, but there are others.

The first floatplane docked on the Kenora harbourfront today. River Air’s Caravan will be followed by more of their planes tomorrow. The pilots who brought it down from Minaki, Jamie Clemmens and Robyn Warken, took some pictures for me, but there were technical issues, and I’m still working on that.

Josh Broten took some pictures today, too, and they’ll round out the lake coverage with photos of the south west portion. It’s getting late, so I’ll put them up tomorrow morning.

Thanks everyone!

The weather outlook for the next while is a mixed bag, with more cloud and some showers. Temperatures will be mostly back to near normal, but with cooler conditions as the weekend arrives, naturally. Things should recover a bit a few days later.

May 5, 2022: Overview

So far this week, we’ve been looking at the lake one patch at a time. This morning, Jonathan O’Connor was aboard Air Canada’s flight AC259 from Toronto to Winnipeg. He sent in some photos.

Yes, you can click on these to see a larger version that you can zoom in on.

We’ll go from east to west, like Jonathan’s flight.

Whitefish Bay and Long Bay.

This is Whitefish Bay, and at the right of the photo is Highway 71. Don’t be fooled by the powerline, which is straighter and more obvious. The road is closer to the right edge, and much wigglier. Zoom in and you can see the open water at the  Sioux Narrows bridge. Because the camera is pointed down for this shot, it provides a good look at the condition of the ice, which looks soft.

Here’s his view of the northern part of Lake of the Woods.

North of the Alneau Peninsula.

In the foreground is the Alneau Peninsula. The Barrier Islands stretch across the middle of the frame, and if you look closely, you can see the big patch of open water at the Elbow. Above the middle to the right are Hay Island, Bigstone Bay and Longbow Lake. Towards the upper left, the water in Keewatin Channel is hard to distinguish from the land unless you zoom in. From high altitudes, the haze tends to make trees and water look a similar shade of blue, especially in the distance.

Big Narrows.

As the plane travelled west, Jonathan captured this view of Big Narrows that also shows Ptarmigan in the distance.

Thanks, Jonathan!

The continuing clear weather means there are new satellite images every day. I’ll put together a look at the whole week on Satellite Saturday, but in the meantime, here’s today’s shot from Terra.

MODIS image of Lake of the Woods from Terra satellite, May 5, 2022, in false colour.

We also have a new drone Panorama from Paul Leischow.

As usual, clicking on the still image below will take you to a panorama that you can watch, or use your mouse to interact with.

Drone view of Keewatin Channel.

It’s worth mentioning that at this time of year, this whole area would usually be all open water, with lots of boat traffic.

Thanks, Paul!

Two things are happening on Friday: Sean will reveal how the actual weather and the changes to the weather forecast affect his graphs predicting the likely timing of ice-out.

I’ll be live on Q-104 with Ken O’Neil at 7:50am to talk about that, and how the sudden arrival of spring weather is changing things.

April 12, 2022: Aerial Overview

Josh Broten took his new plane up to 9500 feet yesterday and photographed several areas on Lake of the Woods that have patches of open water. I think he got just about all of them.

If you click on these pictures, you’ll see a larger, full-screen version, and you can zoom in to see it at the full resolution. That makes it a lot easier to distinguish between open water and cloud shadows.

First, Flag Island, near the Northwest Angle.

Flag Island is in the center. Some open water around Flag and in between Windfall and Falcon.

Just a little further north, the Tug Channel runs up the east side of Falcon Island.

Looking NW over Tug Channel. Some open water through Johnston Passage.

Falcon Island is probably the third-largest island on LotW. The Johnston Passage is along it’s north shore.

Then towards Big Narrows.

Looking SW over Big Narrows….lots of open water.

Big Narrows always has open water early on. I don’t know if it ever freezes entirely.

I asked Josh if he could get a picture of the Sioux Narrows area, because satellites are showing a patch of water there, and some weaker or wetter ice in that area.

Looking ESE over Yellow Girl Bay and Long Bay.

This is the same spot of water that shows on the satellite images, but the rest of the ice looks about the same as everywhere else.

Over to the see the Barrier Islands now, with Kenora in the distance.

Looking north towards Kenora. Open water between Mather and Allie Island.

As usual, there’s a bit of water in The Elbow, where the current pushes through between the Barrier Islands. Further back, Scotty Island, Middle Island and Hay Island are all ice-locked.

Last, Sioux Narrows.

Looking ESE over Sioux Narrows. Some open water.

In the foreground, you can see tiny patches of water by Fire Island, just west of Sioux Narrows. Further back, there’s water under the bridge, too.

A special thanks to Josh for covering all the hot spots. As you can see, the ice is almost unbroken over the vast majority of the lake, with just those parts with strong currents showing open water. This is normal when our temperatures are mostly below freezing, and so far we haven’t been able to enjoy more than a few days of mild temperatures (or even seasonal average ones).

That brings us to the weather. By now, you will have heard that we have a big winter storm coming. It’s been working it’s way across the American mid-west, and it’ll be our turn starting tomorrow. It’ll be a lot colder than average, and we probably won’t see any above-freezing temperatures from Wednesday right through to Easter Sunday or Monday. Expect blizzard conditions starting Wednesday and lasting all through Thursday, before tapering off on the morning of Good Friday. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a number of power outages, so be prepared to hunker down.

Naturally, none of this bodes well for the spring thaw. Overnight lows are expected to drop to around -10°C for a couple of days, which is bad enough, but the  fresh snow will have a lasting effect because it will add a layer of reflective insulation that will prevent the sun’s warmth from reaching the lake ice.

In short, winter isn’t done with us yet.

 

May 2, 2020: Satellite Saturday Plus

It’s cold again, but we have a strong wind. With the lake partly open, windy conditions have the potential to destroy ice wholesale, but this spring is being weird. There’s snow in the forecast tonight, and near-freezing overnight lows forecast for half the week. To be honest, I don’t know what to make of it.

Let’s do the satellite thing to try and get some perspective. An ‘overview’ if you will.

It’s been cloudy, so I can’t use images from May 2nd or even May 1st; the most recent good pictures were from April 30th.  My first thought was to compare those to April 30th of last year, but no such luck; it was cloudy at the end of April last year. Moving back another year to April 30th of 2018? Score! Clear shots. Here’s why it makes sense to compare this year to that one. 2018, 2019 and 2020 were late starting thaws in cold spring weather. The ice cleared fairly rapidly in both 2018 and 2019, with the lake going ice-free on May 14th both years. This year we got an even later start, courtesy of some nasty cold April weather, but given that the ice was not that thick, Sean and I both thought we could catch up and completely thaw the lake by about the 14th.

These are false-colour images: the brighter the blue, the thicker the ice, and open water is black. These pictures are not zoomable: this is all the resolution there is.

However, if you click on the top picture, you’ll see an archive image with some landmarks labelled to help you get oriented. Pay no attention to the ice cover in that file photo.

Okay, let’s look at the pictures:

2018 False-colour image from April 30th. MODIS camera on NASA’s Terra satellite.

2020 False colour image from April 30th. MODIS camera on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

Well, huh. Aside from the fact that this year’s image is sharper (they vary) it’s pretty clear that we have less ice this year than two years ago on the same date.

It looks as if large parts of cottage country have open water already, and once we reach this stage, the rest of the lake is not usually far behind.

If we had a decent weather forecast, I’d be confident that the lake was going to be ice-free earlier than the 14th. However, we have several days of unseasonably cold temperatures coming up. I just don’t know.

I haven’t been able to cover the Sioux Narrows area this year. Ordinarily, I’d make a little detour on the way home from Dryden now and then, but the pandemic has grounded me this spring, so I couldn’t do that.

I was happy to receive this picture from Tony Lord this evening.

Regina Bay – Sioux Narrows. Taken just south of Crystal Harbour and looking East. The island in the foreground is Kennard Island.

Tony says: Ice at our dock was up to 8” thick in places but breaking up on Thursday morning with sections of open water. By Friday afternoon the majority of the bay that we can see is open except a stretch immediately North (left) of Kennard Island.

Thanks, Tony.

Okay, now we have to talk about the pandemic restrictions. Ontario Premier Doug Ford has announced that some businesses will be able to open soon, with restrictions.

For instance, marinas will  be allowed to put boats in the water. BUT! That doesn’t mean you can go boating. The marinas aren’t going to be open to the public, and the boats have to stay tied to a dock. They’re just being allowed to catch up on a backlog of launching boats. Actually letting people take their boat will have to wait.

Here’s a link to the full Kenora Online article on this story.

 

May 12, 2019: Sioux Narrows

Jason Sugimoto sent me these pictures from the Sioux Narrows area today, and a screen capture of a map to show where they were  taken.

Jason says: Was just out in Sioux Narrows and still some rotten ice in Whitefish Bay. Regina Bay looked ice free but didn’t venture too far into it.

Since this one shows the power line, it might be from the more northerly location.

Bear in mind that the aerial or satellite images you see at Google Maps are not current; they’re file images. The forest is not that green yet.

I think this picture’s from the more southerly area.

Jason says: The ice was quite rotten and was able to push through it slowly with the boat.

Thanks, Jason!

In other news, if you haven’t been reading the comments*, you may not have seen David Foerster’s report that Clearwater and Ptarmigan Bays are clear now.

*If you follow Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol primarily by email, you may miss some of the website’s extra features: comments, links, an archive of previous years, and the ability to scroll quickly to recent posts, or select them from a list. For all Ice Patrol has to offer, drop in on icepatrol.ca once in a while.

Signs of Spring: the snow is almost gone from the Seven Generations parking lot on Veteran’s Drive, the trees are finally starting to leaf out, and Safeway has put the ‘take a number’ dispenser back up at the deli. Seriously. They only use it in the summer.

 

March 23, 2019: Satellite Saturday

I don’t often fly on Saturdays, so this is a great chance to catch up on the Satellite pictures.

The MODIS camera on NASA’s Terra satellite got a nice sharp picture yesterday.

Liam Gumley, Space Science and Engineering Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The first thing you’ll notice is that this picture looks like it’s in black and white. It’s not. There just isn’t a lot of sparkling blue water or green leaves at this time of year.

Need a little help getting oriented? You won’t find your house on this picture: the smallest identifiable features are lakes about the size of Kenora’s Rabbit Lake, Round Lake and Laurenson’s Lake. All three are inside the little red circle.

Gives you an idea of the size of Lake of the Woods, doesn’t it? No, you can’t zoom in to see more detail. This is the highest resolution shot the MODIS camera gives us.

Here’s an old picture of the lake with more features marked.

Satellite Tags 01

The picture above is also on the FAQ page, if you’d like to refer to it later in the season.

It won’t always work out that a clear satellite picture shows up just in time for a Saturday Ice Patrol post. Sometimes it’s too cloudy, sometimes the pictures are blurred.

But I try to update the links at the right after a clear day. Each link shows the date, so you don’t have to click on it if it’s old news. Here’s a picture of what to look for, but the picture does not have live links.

If you can’t find this block of links, it may be because you’re looking at an email instead of the icepatrol.ca website, or it may be because the mobile version moves the links to the bottom instead of the side. Once you visit the satellite pictures at their own websites, it’s not too hard to change the dates.

I’ll have another new weekly feature starting tomorrow, and I should be flying on Monday, so I hope take some fresh pictures then.

 

March 21, 2019: Slush

I wrapped up yesterday’s post by saying I’d take fresh pictures today, but I didn’t expect to see much change.

Anyway, we had a bit more time today, so we flew farther out over the lake.

At first, things looked about the same. Down by Sioux Narrows, there was a tiny patch of open water in Whitefish Narrows, but everything else looked like solid ice with good snow cover.  Sorry, no picture; there just wasn’t much to see.

At Big Narrows, although a patch of slush was visible in Tranquil Channel, I didn’t make the significant detour to get a closer look, so no picture of that, either.

Most of the lake still looks like this:

This picture looks north over the Barrier Islands. Twelve Mile Portage, where the ice road crosses Shammis Island, is near the center.

Remember, you can click on these pictures to see them full-screen, and you can click on the larger version to zoom them to their maximum resolution.

As we approached town, things started to change.

This photo was taken from over Allie Island, heading north east toward Middle Island and Hay Island. But look at the slush in the foreground, west of Queer Island.

Next we swung toward Keewatin Channel. There’s more slush between Crowe Island and Yacht Club Island.

My friend Will says snowmobile trails in this area have been treacherous all winter, with lots of slush and weak ice. Here’s a closer look at the same area.

Then on to Rat Portage Bay.

Yesterday’s picture of this area only showed the water coming out of Devil’s Gap and reaching as far as Johnson Island. It actually extends to Caragana Island, and it’s working towards Dingwall Island. Usually, Rat Portage Bay holds out at this stage. The ice road is built where the ice can normally be trusted. Gun Club Island, in the center foreground of this photograph, doesn’t have the same kind of current, and is typically late to thaw.

Lastly a picture of the Kenora harbourfront.

The footbridge to Coney Island crosses the open water at the right of this shot. There’s slush on Kenora Bay downtown now, and open water between Bush Island and the hospital.

I’m encouraged by the spreading slush. It makes travel on the lake very difficult, on or off the ice roads, but we need that snow cover to darken to let the sun’s rays do their work. Warm winds would be helpful, but the best way to get rid of the snow would actually be rain.

The short-term forecast is for warm temperatures as far as Saturday, but our overnight low on Sunday night might be -13ºC, and the following week will see days that barely reach 0º. So, hmm.

You might be wondering how this year’s conditions compare to years past. I was, so I had a look. Right now, the extent of ice, and quality of snow cover look almost identical to the pictures I took this time last year. Each patch of open water I saw today is a near perfect match for March 22, 2018.

This makes sense to me: Sean’s Freezing Index is similar to last year’s.

You don’t have to take my word for this, the ARCHIVE tool on the right-hand sidebar let’s you jump to the Ice Patrol posts for March (or other spring months) of the last few years.

Recent clear skies have allowed me to update all the  SATELLITE PICTURE links.

Please note: these features of the Ice Patrol web page are not replicated in the emails, and are harder to find on the mobile version of the site.

Last year we had a cold snap in late April, and the thaw stalled, pushing ice-out back to mid-May.

The biggest difference between 2019 and 2018 is in the long-term weather outlook. We’re supposed to get above normal temperatures this spring, along with most of western Canada.

Assuming the rosy forecast plays out, we’ll not only avoid those three weeks of cold weather, we’ll have warmer temperatures for most of March and April, too.

May 10, 2018: Remnants

Terra Satellite captured a clean image of Lake of the Woods today. Here’s how it looks in True Colour.

You can see there are three main patches of ice remaining. The bright one at the left is Shoal Lake, and the fainter one to the right of it is the area south of the Barrier Islands. The patchy one near the bottom is by Baudette.

Side note: Kenora shows very clearly on this picture as a beige blotch at the upper right. Look closely, and you can just make out three tiny dark blobs in the brightest part. Those are Rabbit Lake, Round Lake and Laurenson’s Lake!

Here’s the same image in false colour. Now that you know where to look, you should be able to spot our suburban lakes again.

The same three patches of ice are visible, but the differences in ice strength more clear.

Sometimes, very thin ice is indistinguishable from space. So I went flying and took a look from the air.

Click on any of the pictures below to see a larger version that you can zoom in on.

Middle Island and the Hades are in front of the aircraft’s nose. Scotty Island is in the center of the frame, and the patch of ice extending from Scotty to Whiskey Island is not visible from space. It is very weak, and will be gone tonight.

The larger sheet of ice is the one south of the Barrier Islands. It’s in poor shape, but it’s pretty big. We circled around it for a closer look.

This picture looks north, with Cliff Island in the foreground, and Bath Island dead center. The Barrier Islands are at the far edge of the ice, and the little patch by Scotty can be seen beyond them. Kenora is just visible as some pale specks in the far-off haze. You can’t see all of this icy area in this picture; smaller sheets of ice extend in both directions, but they’re weak and won’t last.

Our training flight took us over by Sioux Narrows. Click on the image to zoom in and see the iconic bridge in the foreground. Beyond it is Whitefish Bay, which has a reputation for thick ice, but it’s no straggler this year: it’s all open. The black and grey blur is just a propeller blade photo-bombing the picture.

This picture looks west, so in the top right corner, you can see the ice we circled around before, and far off on the horizon, the white line is the ice on Shoal Lake.

We didn’t go far south, so I didn’t get a good picture of the ice down on Big Traverse, but here’s a hazy one just to show that it’s real.

It’s not very warm today, but it is sunny and windy, so all this ice is going to have a hard time. The small patch by Scotty Island should be gone by dawn. The bigger area south of the Barrier Islands might last a day or two. I’m not sure about big sheet down on Big Traverse. It looks weak, and it’s very exposed to wind down there. It could also go in a day or two. The ice on Shoal Lake looks stronger. It might last three days or so.

Sean C. will update his graph tomorrow because he’s been saying for some time that May 11 would be the day we’ll hit a thaw index of 200, enough heat to melt all the ice we made last winter. I’ll recap his method tomorrow; it worked very well this year, and shows great promise for predicting future spring thaws.

May 2, 2018: Scenic Tour

We had a training flight today that covered a fair bit of the lake.

I’ll lead off with another look at Rat Portage Bay and Safety Bay.

The ice is letting go on Laurenson’s Lake, just right of center in this picture, and further away, the ice on Rat Portage Bay looks weaker, too.

Our second picture looks south east from Bare Point. Lunney’s Island is toward the left, and beyond it is Scotty Island. At the right side of the frame is Town Island.

If you zoom in, you’ll see little patches of water all over the place, but you can’t help but notice there’s a lot of ice out there still.

We went further in this direction, so our third picture is The Manitou.

That’s the western tip of Scotty Island at the lower left corner, and Whiskey Island is the isolated island in the white expanse that is the Manitou. Not so many holes out here; this part of the lake melts late.

Next we swung around to look at the Devil’s Elbow, the biggest patch of water near the Barrier Islands. Mather Island is at the right, Allie Island is near the middle of the picture.

Further south east, it’s all ice from Oliver Island, past Ferrier Island and pretty much all the way to Yellow Girl Bay.

We flew to Sioux Narrows.

This is taken from over Long Point Island, looking at Regina Bay. Mostly ice here.

For our next training exercise, we needed blue sky, so we turned west and headed for this gigantic “sucker hole” in the clouds.

That took us down the western end of Long Bay, so here’s a look at Whitefish Narrows. There are some promising patches of water there.

We climbed up higher, and caught this view as we turned north to stay in our patch of blue sky.

The distinctive island in the foreground is Cintiss Island, with Crescent Island behind it.  Beyond that, the span of the Barrier Islands, stretching from Crow Rock Island at the left to East Allie Island at the right.

There is open water at each narrows, but there’s also a lot of ice on the lake.

From our higher vantage point, we could clearly see Shoal Lake to our west.

The little lakes on the Western Peninsula are opening up, but Shoal Lake is deep and shows only tentative signs of opening up along the shores of Carl Bay, near the middle of this picture.

I thought you might like to see some real water, so here’s Big Narrows.

You’re looking east, with Ferris Island at the lower right. There’s open water all the way to Oak Bay, just above the middle of the picture, but Wiley Bay, to the left of it, is all ice.

Here’s a closer look at Wiley.

From here, the only water we see is on the shallow lakes of the Western Peninsula and along its shorelines.

On the home stretch back to Kenora and the airport, we caught this view of Poplar Bay. It’s mostly frozen; the dark patches are cloud shadows. The Tangle is open though.

Chasing patches of blue sky and steering away from aircraft inbound to Kenora set us roaming around today. I don’t often cover so much territory that I need to dig out four or five different marine charts, so I hope you enjoyed the tour.

If you’re in Kenora, it’s easy to form the impression that everything is melting fast, but there’s seventy-odd miles of lake you can’t see from town, and it’s mostly ice. It isn’t all going to melt this weekend.

We are making good progress, so our very late thaw can be upgraded to rather late.