Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Stage set for early ice-out on Red Lake, Ontario

Mourning dove, March 29, Nolalu, ON
Following the warmest winter on record it seems very likely that the ice will break up on Red Lake and all other Northwestern Ontario lakes earlier than normal this year.

The average ice-out date for Red Lake is May 8 with normals being one week earlier or later than that date. There's a good chance this year that the ice will disappear in late April.

As always, the main driving force to ice-out is spring weather and that can be very unpredictable.

However, other factors such as snow cover, color and depth of ice all point to a quick melt.

As an example of how unusual the weather has been this year, the above photo of a mourning dove was taken at our home in Nolalu on Monday, March 29. It is rare to see a dove here in the middle of summer and finding one in March is unheard of! Nolalu is 50 km southwest of Thunder Bay, Ont.

All of Northwestern Ontario lost its meagre snow cover in the middle of March when the temperatures soared to the mid-teens C for as much as two weeks. That's about 60 F. Red Lake got a couple dustings of snow after that but it wasn't enough to make any difference.

We then had two weeks of near-normal temps (below freezing at night and a little above freezing in the days). Now the temperatures are again above normal and the melting has resumed.

There was very little snow over the winter and that resulted in the creation of beautiful blue ice, the kind that absorbs the sun in the spring. Other years the ice can be white from slush and this reflects the sun.

By mid-March most of the rivers and creeks were running open and the ice had melted around the shorelines of small lakes. These conditions were about a month earlier than normal and resulted in most ice fishermen pulling their ice shacks off the lakes in a panic.

Only the most adventurous ice anglers are still going on the ice now. Shallow areas have melted significantly and any places with current are to be avoided.

Ice-out prognosticators are loath to pick too early a date as experience has proven a late-spring storm can delay the situation significantly. However, the fact is that Northwestern Ontario has had continuous warm weather since last summer and if the trend would continue for only a few more weeks we could have a record-early breakup this year.

The record ice-out for Red Lake, I believe, is April 20.
Check out Enid Carlson's (Viking Outposts and Viking Island) blog today for a great look at the deteriorating ice in Red Lake.

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Anonymous said...

Looks like some pretty mild weather coming around in the next week or so. Is is possible for the ice to go out by April 15th? Just curious.


Dan B. said...

I guess if there was a "perfect storm" of ice-out conditions: a heavy warm rain followed by a couple weeks of warm, sunny weather and then a high wind, it is possible but not probable.
More likely, even with good conditions, it could be as early as April 22.

Edward "Ted" Chalfant said...

Dan , April 1st is supposed to april fools day, unfortunately yesterday was 60 degrees and as I look out my window from my northern Utah home this morning we have 8 inches of new snow. No fools day just would like to know if you want it sent your way Fed Ex or Ups . Boy I can't wait for family week this weather has me chomping at the bit to get on the water. Give Brenda our love. Ted