Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Is Lake Opeongo open yet?

Our friends at Canoelake.ca are calling Canoe Lake open, with the qualification that there is still ice floating around. Since we don't have people "on the ground" at Opeongo, or better yet, "on the water," our call will be based on the satellite image. As of 4:30-ish yesterday (see previous post), sat images show significant ice still in the east arm and in the narrows between the north and south arms. With the cold weather, there would not have been any melting. I even saw fresh ice on a few lakes visble from the road this morning. Today's image will tell the story (assuming the cloud cover allows us to see anything). By our definition of "unimpeded boat travel end to end" the lake is not open, though I'd say it is 60% open.

Now if we had one of these, we could be telling a different story:

The Oktokopter would be even more useful than a web cam!
Update: 4:43 PM:
The daily satellite images are up but cloud cover is not helping our crack team of observers. Fortunately, the north and south arms can be seen through a break in the cloud and the blockage in the channel is still visible. I think it is safe to say that things on Opeongo have not changed much since yesterday, due to the cold weather.
The south arm is pretty much in the centre of the image. The ice blockage is visible up and left a bit.

Monday, March 26, 2012


Satellite image from today. Lake Opeongo is just right of centre.

This year will set another early ice-out record. Looks like a lot of ice is left in Big Trout but other than that Algonquin Park is mostly open water. High winds will have pushed any remaining ice into the south ends of many lakes. The water is still frigid and the expected low tonight is -12 C. I'd recommend waiting a bit before going on a canoe trip.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ice-out 2012: where is the drama?

If you do search through this blog (click the label "ice-out reports for Algonquin Park" in the "things we blog about" box to the right) and read the ice-out reports over the years, you will notice that the seasons with "normal" or "late" ice-out seem to create the create the most excitement.  In years like those, we outfitters are hoping that the ice and snow will disappear in time for us to dig out canoes, get water taxis in the water and provide service to anxious early-season trippers. Trout anglers are stoked to get to their favourite lake and will do just about anything to make that happen. In years like this, and 2010 as well, when an early ice-out is pretty much a certainty, it all seems a bit ho-hum.

Except for a few piles in shady spots, the snow is already gone. The small lake near my house opened up this morning and our local Oxtongue Lake is half-open. The big lakes around Huntsville, like Fairy, Peninsula and Lake of Bays have large open sections and the remainder is covered with a layer of black mush, likely to disappear in the next 48 hours.

OK, OK, what about Algonquin? This weekend will tell the story. Temperatures are dropping over the next 72 hours, back to more seasonable levels. For early next week, Environment Canada is forecasting lows in the negative double digits and possibly a snowflake or two. Whatever ice survives the weekend will harden up and sit there until the next heat wave.

A more "normal" looking weather forecast for late March
I  believe it is safe to think that Algonquin lakes will be ice free by April 28, the opening day of trout season. What day the faithful will be able to go on a "no fishing" canoe trip is still open for discussion. The Friends of Algonquin Park seem to be on the same page and since they are out and about a little more than we are, are publishing daily pictures on their Facebook page.

For the record, river levels are still very high. If you are planning a backpacking trip this weekend, please note that the Western Uplands and Highlands trails are closed due to flooding. Levels are expected to drop but please call the park info line at 1-705-633-5572 for the latest updates.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Oxtongue Lake ice update 3/18/12: summer is the new spring

As I am sure I don't need to remind you, the weather has been a little balmy this week. Kind of "barmy" if you ask me, because I am still thinking that I am not done with winter activities yet. Looking at the forecast, I apparently need get over it and put the skis away:

Note the temperature drop at the end of the week. Back to normal?

That said, except for a few open stretches of fast moving, frigid river water, there isn't much chance of canoeing in Algonquin Park anytime soon. Notice the implied warning in the previous sentence. And speaking of fast moving frigid rivers, our neighbourhood stream, the Oxtongue River, is in full flood at the moment. One of the best activities at this time of year is staying firmly planted on shore and watching the raw power of places like nearby Ragged Falls. Here is a little video I captured on Friday. The water is even higher today!

Finally, for those of you who need photographic evidence, here is a picture, taken today, of the still-frozen of waters of Oxtongue Lake, just in front of the store.

It wouldn't be hard to get a canoe in the water but you wouldn't get very far.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Meanest Link trip report and a quick ice update for your reading pleasure

A Meanest Link report!
Scott Rogers is the first member of the "Six On Six" group to get a trip report on-line. And what a report it is! Well-written, full of great pictures and humour, it definitely does not gloss over the challenges of the trip. Make yourself a couple of pots of tea for this one, because with a 15-day trip, it is no surprise that he created a 15-page report:

Quick ice update:
And while I'm here, here is a little snow and ice update: rain and mild weather has definitely made a BIG dent in the Algonquin Park snowpack. Having said that, I must report that people are still cross-country skiing and snowshoeing this week in very "spring skiing" conditions. All lakes are frozen right up to the shore, small streams are in flood, and the long-range forecast is looking colder by the end of next. So, shall we see a repeat of the record-breaking 2010 ice-out? I doubt it. Early-ish maybe, but not that early.

Cast your vote for ice-out predictions in Algonquin Park:
Canoe Lake Ice-Out Contest:

New! AO's own Lake Opeongo ice-out contest, with absolutely no prizes except bragging rights. It's a really long URL, simply click here.