Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Spring is coming - slowly

Long time no blog - my apologies to faithful readers of this journal.

The days are getting longer and spring is in the air - sort of. There is still two feet of snow on the ground in most places in Algonquin Park, despite the rain and warm weather last week. Snowfall in February was double the annual average and there is a lot of water content in the snow. Ministry of Natural Resources staff estimate that the water content of the the snowpack right now is about eight inches. This means that if all the snow melted at once, it would be equivalent to eight inches of rainfall. That would be some kind of flood! The normal amount for this time of year of two inches.

This is not deterring people from planning early season trout fishing trips. Optimistic anglers are booking water taxis and canoe for "ice out" trips starting on the opening day of trout season, this year April 29. It's to early to perdict when the ice will go out but our advice to folks planning early season trips is to be flexible.

When does the ice go out? A few seasons ago, our intrepid reporters unearthed a secret document revealing the results of a 33 year study of ice-out dates on Opeongo Lake. Opeongo is usually the last lake to open up in Algonquin Park. "Ice-out" refers to the day when boat travel from end to end is unimpeded by ice. Over 33 years of record-keeping, the average ice-out date was April 30, the earliest was April 12, 1981, and the latest, May 15, 1972. The official ice-out date for 2004 was April 25 but in 2005 Lake Opeongo was not fully open till May 4!

With such a wide range of potential dates, you now know why our staff have such difficulty answering that popular question, "When will the ice go out this year?" The best strategy for trip planning is to have a flexible schedule and route plan and to phone us closer to your trip dates to get a better prediction.

For an informative and entertaining report on Canoe Lake conditions, visit the Electric Penquin's ice out page.

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