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.

 

 

March 24, 2021: West Hawk, Clearwater and more.

There were some technical difficulties getting these photos to me, so they’re a couple of days old. They were taken in the late afternoon/early evening on Monday the 22nd, by a pair of seventeen-year-old pilots. On this trip, Arsen Yamborko was the pilot flying, and James Norris was navigating and taking pictures. I’m really happy to have these because it’s a challenge every spring to find people who are flying over the Whiteshell.

You can click on these pictures to see them full screen.

South Cross Lake, Caddy Lake, West Hawk Lake.

The Whiteshell, looking south east over West Hawk, with Shoal Lake in the far distance and a hint of Lake of the Woods on the very horizon.

Clearwater Bay, Deception Bay.

I love the late afternoon lighting on this one. McCallum Point dead center, and part of Zigzag Island at the lower right corner.

Northern Peninsula.

I had to hit the maps for this one. The Northern Peninsula’s Spruce Point is just out of the frame at the lower left. Rabson Island is the one that vaguely resembles a musical note. In the distance, Fox, Hare and Wolf Islands. Kenora is in the extreme distance at the upper left corner.

Brulé Point, Fox Island, the Manitou, Welcome Channel.

Brulé Point extends up from the bottom of the frame, Fox Island is just left of center, and Welcome Channel is above that. Kenora is again visible in the upper left corner.

Norman, Safety Bay, Coney Island.

Closer to town, this shot has Norman in the foreground, and the west end of Coney Island in the center. Further right, the ice is rotting out around Cameron Island, Gourlay Island and Yacht Club Island.

Remember, these photographs are from Monday, so the ice is surely even worse by now.

Anyway, special thanks to Arsen, James, and to Dan Zvanovec, a former contributor who got in touch with me about these photos.

 

May 8, 2019: Yesterday’s Satellite Images

I did fly today, but cloudy skies gave flat lighting that made it really hard to tell the difference between ice and water. Both just looked grey. I didn’t take any pictures.

I was so busy selecting and cropping photographs for the last two days that I didn’t have time to check on the satellite images. Both Aqua and Terra captured sharp images on May 7th. I’ve updated all the links under the SATELLITE PICTURES sidebar, but I’m going to show you the Aqua pictures here.

I’ll start with a labelled version to get you oriented.

Now the clean version so you can see the ice more clearly.

The lake has less than 50% ice cover now, with the strongest, brightest ice on the Little Traverse (where the letters OF THE appear on the labelled version.) Below that, Big Traverse has fractured ice, while above the Alneau Peninsula, there’s a wide expanse of ice as far north as the Barrier Islands. West of Lake of the Woods, it’s interesting to note that Shoal Lake still has plenty of ice, West Hawk Lake has weak ice, and Falcon Lake is open.

For comparison, here’s the natural colour version of the same image.

Although it’s harder to distinguish water from land, the white ice really stands out. Bigstone Bay is a good example, and so is Silver Lake. Subtler patches can be seen on Ptarmigan Bay, Clearwater Bay, and Andrew Bay.

Keep in mind that these images are from yesterday. There’s been some progress since then; I noticed today that ice on Lower Black Sturgeon has shrunk and drifted north with the current, and that’s just one place where I happened to get a good look.

In case you don’t read all the comments, here’s one from today by Stu Everett:

Was out in my boat today and managed to make it to Crow Rock. I did take a look out around the point and it seems clear down to Wiley Point. Can’t guarantee it is open to Wiley, it is sometimes hard to see the ice from water level, but it seems likely. The wind came up this afternoon so the trip back was less circuitous, some of the areas are quickly becoming ice free. You can see piles of ice up on the shore in many places, and where the ice is weak it is breaking up. It sure looks like some large areas are going to blow out today. I am confident that tomorrow will show many changes from the photos you took this AM. Here’s hoping!

I may not be flying again until Monday. By then I expect the ice to be nearly all gone.