Annual Ice Out Report

May  10th, 2017

Well, it's sad to see the ice season ending but very exciting to see the fishing season beginning.  According to the May 8 satellite picture, there is still ice on Buck.  It’s in the main part of the lake between Bingwood and Crowded Point.  The areas around the cabins are ice free and almost all surrounding lakes are ice free.  Here’s a photo of Government Lake taken just last week:



 Here’s the May 8 Lake Superior satellite shot.  You can still see the white on Buck!



The satellite pictures have been cloudy the last two days but the temperatures have been warm.  Therefore, I am declaring ice out on Buck to be Wednesday, May 10.  John and the gang should be able to safely arrive in camp late week and this weekend.


Ice out the last seven years:

2017    May 10

2016    May 6

2015    May 8

2014    May 26

2013    May 20

2012    April 7

2011    May 7


It's fun to watch and report on the anticipation of ice out.  We'll do it again next year, but now, it's time to go fishing!



April 9, 2017

All the difference a year makes.  Early April last year was cold and snowy in Hornepayne with the highest temperature at 36F.  This year, the highest temperature of the first full week in April is 68F, which is today!  Here's a comparison of early April temperatures between the two years (in Fahrenheit):


                2016    2017

DATE            HIGH    HIGH

  1              22      35

  2              15      51

  3              16      49

  4              21      50

  5              36      43

  6              33      38

  7              24      46

  8              18      63

  9              26      68


The back-to-back days in the 60F's have really done a number on the snow cover.  In fact, the snow cover in Hornepayne was reduced by 70% this past week from 24 down to 7 centimeters, or about 2.75 inches, and that's not counting today’s melted snow. For comparison, on April 9, 2016, there was still 46 centimeters or 18 inches of snow cover and April 9, 2014 recorded the record snow cover of 38 inches. Based on these comparisons, we are headed toward a much earlier ice out than what we have seen in the past couple years. 

Here's a look at the Wawa Goose webcam.  You can see that most of the snow, especially when the surface is flat and exposed to the sun, is gone.

 The Lake Superior satellite shot, although cloudy shows the lakes in the Upper Peninsula mostly ice free and any remaining snow confined to the lake effect snow belts.  You can also see the snow line creeping north into Ontario.  The entire satellite picture is transitioning from a gray color due to the snow cover to a greenish color, due to exposed vegetation.



There's even a little water along the shore line on the lake in Chapleau.  First time this Spring I have seen that!



So, what does next week look like?  Well, why change now, keep the warm temperatures around.  There will be another brief cool down from today's 60F's back into the 30F's early in the week, but temps will rebound back above normal with 40F's and 50F's the remainder of the week.  The National Weather says the next 6 to 10 days will look like this:




Warm, warm, warm...that's what the temperature trends have been for the last couple seasons and there's no change to that in the near future.  By next week, the snow should mostly be gone and we should be seeing more and more water on the lake webcams.  See you then to check on the status of this year’s melt!



April 3, 2017


Before we look at the weather in Hornepayne, I found a little information on the web that talks about how ice melts.  I found it interesting and thought I'd include it here.  Since it's from the Internet, it has to be true!

A wonderful description of how lake ice melts away appeared on the web blog "Air Mass", hosted by the Star Tribune's Bill McAuliffe. Ed Swain, of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency describes the process of freezing and thawing lakes.

1.  In the late fall, the lake loses heat to the atmosphere, and then on a day or night when the wind is not blowing, ice forms. The ice gets thicker as long as the lake can continue to lose heat.

2.  In most Januaries and Februaries, snow both reflects sunlight and insulates the lake. With a thick snow layer, the lake neither gains nor loses heat. The bottom sediment is actually heating the lake water slightly over the winter, from stored summer heat.

3.  Around March, as the air warms and the sun gets more intense, the snow melts, allowing light to penetrate the ice. Because the ice acts like the glass in a greenhouse, the water beneath it begins to warm, and the ice begins to melt FROM THE BOTTOM.

4.  When the ice thickness erodes to between 4 and 12 inches, it transforms into long vertical crystals called "candles." These conduct light even better, so the ice starts to look black, because it is not reflecting much sunlight.

5.  Warming continues because the light energy is being transferred to the water below the ice. Meltwater fills in between the crystals, which begin breaking apart. The surface appears grayish as the ice reflects a bit more light than before.

6.  The wind comes up, and breaks the surface apart. The candles will often be blown to one side of the lake, making a tinkling sound as they knock against one another, and piling up on the shore. In hours, a sparkling blue lake, once again!


Hornepayne experienced above normal temperatures last week seeing temperatures in the 50F's on two days and at or above freezing the remaining days of the week.  With temps above freezing, 4.3 millimeters (mm) of rain was able to fall. 


The Great Lakes ice cover is down to 3.3% and falling so it will no longer be a factor in the melt. 


The warm temperatures coupled with the rain were able to reduce the snow cover by about 23% from 31 down to 24 centimeters, or about 9.5 inches.  2016 recorded almost double the amount of snow at 44 centimeters on April 1.  Here's the snow cover map showing the only snow in Michigan to be in the Upper Peninsula.



The Lake Superior satellite picture agrees showing some snow remaining in the UP.  You can also see some lakes in the UP that are starting to reflect that gray color discussed earlier meaning that they are in the process of shedding their ice.



The Wawa Goose webcam shows that the snow in the region is starting to feel the effects of spring as it slowly starts to melt away!




Hornepayne's weather this coming week looks to have above average temperatures early, a brief return to average temperatures mid week, followed by another warm up next weekend.  There are some indications that temps early the following week will make a run at the 60F level for the first time this spring.  We'll see if that kind of warmth can get that far north.  The European forecasting model is forecasting a lot of warmth during April over eastern North America, including Northwest Ontario.  The forecast from Environment Canada, which uses the Canadian forecasting model, matches nicely.  Here's the European for April, note that the temperature departures are in Celsius;



Speaking of Environment Canada, here's their forecast for the three months of April, May, and June.  It shows another warm period throughout almost all of Canada.




I'll wrap this one up by saying that I believe that we are ahead of last year's melt when the ice went out at Buck on May 6.  If the longer range forecasts verify, then we are still on track for a late April ice out.  Time will tell and we'll be watching as it does!! 

See you next week!!


MARCH 26, 2017

The melt in Hornepayne is on but is off to a slower start.  Half of last week saw high temperatures in the 40F's while the other half of last week saw high temperatures at their average values, or right around freezing.  Nighttime low temperatures were down in the 5-10F range every night last week.  Speaking of average high temperatures, March 24 is the first day where the average high temperature in Hornepayne reaches freezing or 32F.  The average then increases by 1 Fahrenheit degree every two days.  The snow cover in Hornepayne hung on pretty well last week only dropping from 37 centimeters down to 31.  Last year on this date, Hornepayne still had 53 centimeters of snow on the ground, so in the snow department, we are ahead of last year.  Hornepayne is currently under a Freezing Rain Warning.  They have been experiencing freezing rain all day but the radar shows that it's warmed up enough to change the precipitation to all rain.

Here's a picture of the current snow cover in the Upper Midwest.  All of the snow that blanketed Michigan and Ohio last week is long gone.  



Here's a satellite shot of Lake Huron.  I'm using this one because it's clear and it shows how far north in Michigan ice is leaving the lakes.  It appears that lakes south of Houghton Lake are ice free.  There are a couple lakes north of there, like Torch Lake, that are already ice free but I don't think they had a decent ice cover to start with.


The week ahead looks to warm back up in Hornepayne as high temperatures are forecast to be in the 40F's most of the week and will make a run into the 50F's next weekend to start April.  The European weather forecasting model thinks that temperatures in eastern North America will be above average in April.  The National Weather Service 8 to 14 day and April forecasts strongly agree with the European forecast.  Here's what the European is forecasting:

The locals in Chapleau are tuned into the melt.  Last week, there were only three ice shanties on the lake but I caught a picture on the webcam of a pickup truck removing one of the shanties.  A later check showed only one shanty left.


I also learned this week that the webcam at Wawa Lake has been restored and is back up and running.  It will be nice to have two Ontario webcams to watch the ice out again this season.


With the forecasts for the next week to 10 days, the melt should really begin to take off.  We'll be back next week to see just how much snow has melted and how much ice has melted in Michigan.  Have a great week!!



MARCH 16, 2016

Hey there - we're back for another year of Ice Out reports.  Before we look at the winter in Hornepayne, let’s review the ice out dates the last six years:

2016    May 6

2015    May 8

2014    May 26

2013    May 20

2012    April 7

2011    May 7

The 2016-2017 Winter in Hornepayne.  Winter started out "very normal" with the first cold snap hitting Hornepayne in December when they experienced a low temperature of -30F on December 18.  The snow pack gradually built from 16 centimeters (cm) on December 1 to 42 cm on December 30.  Normalcy even carried through the first two weeks of January with average cold air in place and the snow cover increased to 65 cm by January 11.  With the Pacific Jet Stream slamming into the west coast of North America at extremely high speeds, everything changed.  California up to British Columbia were inundated with record setting rain and mountain snows and all of the cold air was scoured out of Canada causing the onset of the dreaded January Thaw.  Hornepayne experienced 9 consecutive days (Jan 17 thru Jan 25) with high temperatures at or above freezing.  On five of those days, the low temperature did not drop below freezing.  The snow depth dropped from 65 cm on January 11 to 38 cm on January 24.  Seasonal weather and temperatures returned for several weeks in February before another warm spell hit on February 17.  The following six days had high temperatures above freezing.  So, in the 35 or so days between January 17 and February 24, the heart of winter, Hornepayne saw 15 days with high temperatures at or above freezing.  The February warm spell had a similar effect on the snow depth dropping it from 68 cm back down to 44 cm.  Winter was not to be denied and reloaded Canada with a LOT of cold air, especially as we head through March.  In fact, Hornepayne tied its lowest temperature of the season at -30F on March 4.  March 4 is also interesting from another aspect as it's the start of the best example of the wild temperature swings we all, including Hornepayne, experienced this winter.  That -30F reading on March 4 was quickly followed by a high temperature on March 7 of +50F - an 80F degree swing in just three days.

It was not a good year for ice fishing on the Great Lakes.  Every time some ice would build up on the Lakes, a warm spell and rain would wipe it out.  Here's a graphic of the current ice cover.  2017's percentage is 16.7% because of the recent March cold weather.  During the six weeks between mid-January and the end of February, the ice cover hovered between 5 and 10% - similar to last year. 

Previous years ice cover all on March 14 - quite a difference: 

2017 – 16.7%

2016 - 5.2%

2015 - 60.4%

2014 - 85.6%

2013 - 91.2%


We talked about the paltry snow cover in Hornepayne, but how does that compare to past years?  Here's the snow depth, in centimeters, on March 14 for the last few years:

2017      37

2016      62

2015      103

2014      107

2013      82

2012      70

2011      75

 Here's the current snow cover in the Upper Midwest.  It's inflated from the recent series of storms during the past week.  Snow in Upper Lower Michigan has come and gone several times this Winter - and it seemed to be my fault.  Just when I would plan a snowshoeing trip to Traverse City and the Sleeping Bear area, it would warm up and rain reducing the snow cover to almost nothing causing me to cancel my trip on three different weekends.  Maybe next year....



So, the conclusion is that, compared to previous years, we have below normal snow and ice to melt this ice out season.  However, will that lead to an early ice out?  I have observed that the amount of snow and ice built up over a Winter does have an effect on the ice out date but not as much as the weather in March, April and May. 

So far in March, Hornepayne had two days above freezing and those two days lowered the snow depth from 56cm to 37cm.  However, the remaining March days have stayed plenty cold and the snow depth is hanging on.  The extend forecast for the next two weeks shows the cold air entrenched in the Eastern Canada resulting in seasonal to slightly below normal temperatures for Hornepayne.  Here's the National Weather Service take on the next two weeks:



Long range spring forecasts from the National Weather Service and other forecasters indicate that Eastern North America will experience warmer than normal temperatures.  If this forecast validates, and I think it will since we have experienced many above normal temperature months dating back to last spring, then the ice should fall victim to Mother Nature in late April.  Since I'm taking the lovely Carla to Utah between April 27 and May 6, I'm sure the ice will go out during this time.  You want me to be more specific...OK, I'll forecast April 28.

I heard some good news on  Twitter yesterday.  The committee in Wawa has finally raised enough money to replace the iconic goose that welcomes visitors to Wawa.  Good for them!!!  I've not heard when the construction will begin.  Hopefully, we can watch it on the web cam.

 Wawa Goose Webcam 3-15-17


I could not close the initial Ice Out Report without a picture of the lake in Chapleau.  There are only three ice shanties remaining but on February 11, there were over 30 shanties participating in the 20th Annual Chapleau Pike Fishing derby.  The one day contest was won by Isabelle Chicoine with a pike weighing 6.11 pounds.


 Thanks and I'll try to update the ice status weekly!!!