Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Stage is set for a very early 2017 ice-out

If it was any other year I would consider it foolhardy to be speculating in mid-February about when spring ice-out was going to occur. February is usually the coldest month and greatly adds to the thickness of lake ice. But the month is half-gone now and we mostly have had very warm temperatures, much like the early part of the winter. Now the forecast for next week is for above-freezing. There is also a foot or more of snow on the lakes and that will protect it from freezing any further.
So what does this mean for 2017 ice-out?
I predict it is going to be early, possibly even set a record. The current record for Red Lake is April 20, last set in 2010. The average is May 8.
There is only 18-inches of ice or so on most lakes. That is about half the usual thickness at this time of year. With the snow already on the lakes and more snow undoubtedly to come in March, it is very unlikely the ice will get any thicker.
The unknown variable is really what late-March and April will be like. If those periods are mostly overcast and cool, than it will slow down the melt.
Right now I would guess ice-out will occur between April 20 and May 1. It could happen far earlier but I doubt if it will be any later.

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