Monday, May 5, 2014

"Eye in the sky" maybe today on camp ice

Open water at Amik Outpost landing. Ice starts at point on far left. Laurie Marcil photo
Hugh Carlson of Viking Lodge and Outposts may get a look today at ice conditions in the narrows in front of camp. He expected to take off with his floatplane from the ice at Howey Bay and land in the open water at Amik Outpost's landing, just downstream from the Chukuni River bridge. Before that, however, he planned to fly over some of Viking's outpost lakes, Douglas Lake where Viking Island Lodge is located and Bow Narrows to see what is happening.
Brenda and Laurie Marcil (executive-director of Nature and Outdoor Tourism Ontario) returned to Nolalu last night after a five-day road trip in the Northwest. Small lakes were opening up but the big ones, like Red Lake are still frozen shore-to-shore.
In Red Lake they saw a patch of open water around the Skookum Bay bridge. The bay itself is still frozen. Skookum Bay has always been a very accurate indicator of ice-out on Red Lake. One week after it is ice-free, the rest of the lake opens up.
Looking at Laurie's photos on her tablet, I would think it will be about a week before Skookum is ice-free. If that happens, then it would be two weeks from now, or about May 18, for ice-out on Red Lake. This is all dependent on the weather, of course. The forecast is for warmer temperatures than we have been getting. That is encouraging but the disheartening fact is the forecast has been continually wrong all spring. I think the forecasters factor-in historical data to come up with their estimates. This year is unlike anything we have experienced in the past. The winter was the worst in history and the spring has been exceptionally cold and wet.
Laurie also took photos of the open water at Amik Outposts landing. The ice begins at the point at the far left in the photo. Usually when we fly out to camp, the entire bay in this photo is clear.
There are bits of open water at the Forestry Point and also at the Cochenour landing where people come ashore from McKenzie Island. Brenda said people were still crossing by foot to the island, just skirting around the open water at the landing. They will do this almost to the day that ice clears out entirely!
In Nolalu today it is snowing heavily. Red Lake, however, is missing this storm. These late-spring snows are really going to hinder ice-out in the Thunder Bay area. I think it will take a miracle for big lakes to be open by May 17, the beginning of fishing season, in this north-central region. The Northwest region, including Kenora, Dryden, Red Lake and Sioux Lookout, might possibly make it if they can just escape more snow for a couple of weeks.
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