Cold spring weather could mean a late ice-out for Lake of the Woods

ice-flo-on-the-lake Photo by Mathias Kilman/Shutterstock

It looks like the groundhog saw one long shadow this February, because we’re definitely getting more than six additional weeks of winter. In fact, it’s been such a frosty spring that some are worried about melts not happening until after the May long weekend.

According to Tim Armstrong, an areal photographer who has been cataloguing spring melts in Kenora for the last 15 years, this year’s weather rivals that of 2014, which had a notoriously frigid spring that left ice on Lake of the Woods until May 21.

Ice seen from Armstrong's plane
Photo by Tim Armstrong/Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol

Armstrong updated his blog, Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol, early last week saying that there’s been no progress in three weeks. In fact, he said that April has been so cold there’s actually been more ice formed than in March. His photographs show ice for as far as the eye can see, leading him to conclude that the lake won’t be clear until mid-May at the earliest.

“We are looking comparable to 2014. Which was a late spring. But what has me more worried is the reports I’m getting on the thickness of the ice. And the strength of the ice. Combined with the forecast for the rest of April, which is for things to stay cold,” Armstrong told the CBC, sighting his aerial photography as evidence.

More Ice on Lake of the Woods
Photo by Tim Armstrong/Lake of the Woods Ice Patrol

“We’ve still got snow cover on Lake of the Woods. So the sun is shining well, but it’s not really penetrating to the ice to create that slush.”

Armstrong is optimistic that the lake will be ready for cottagers by the May long weekend — but only just.

“As of today, I feel Lake of the Woods could be ice-free around May 15-18,” he wrote on April 12. He also reminded readers that the ice doesn’t need to be completely gone for people to head to camp.

Armstrong’s cautious optimism makes us hopeful about the lake opening up in time for May 2-4. Still, Armstrong is hedging his bets. Even with his birds-eye view, he admits that he can never entirely predict the weather.

“In the end, we’ll have to wait and see.”


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