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.