Week of Sunday, March 25th, 2018

Weekly Temperature
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Mar 25 Mar 26 Mar 27 Mar 28 Mar 29 Mar 30 Mar 31
High 1 9 7 5 5 2 7
Low -8 -4 2 0 0 0 -1

The ice continues to hang on despite a few nice warm days. It won’t be much longer before we have open water if things keep melting at this rate.

Last year there was a little less ice at this same time of year. Looking back at records for 2014 (a cold winter) it was late into April before all the ice disappeared from the beach.

Sunday, March 25, 2018 – looking west from Beach One on a crisp morning. Just below freezing and the sand hard as rock and perfect to walk on.
Monday, March 26th, 2018 – The ice drifting north due to an unusual south wind. Note the expanse of open water that’s opened up. Taken with a telephoto lense as the open water is quite a distance from shore.

The view from the shore can be deceiving. In the picture above, taken from shore, we can see open water. Sure enough, two large chunks of ice (several kilometers in length) broke off from the ice pack near shore, and are floating north in the bay.  According to the satellite photography (below) the ice that broke off is approximately one mile by three miles.

Monday, March 26th, 2018 – Satellite photography confirms that an ice chunk approximately three square miles in size is floating north.
Wednesday, March 28th, 2018 – Today reached a high of 5C with gentle winds from the north. I can’t explain the physics of the steam coming off the sand, but I recall the same thing last year. Today was partly sunny, and I expect the sand is warmer than the air. Couple this with cold air drifting in over the ice from the north, and “poof” – beach fog!
Wednesday March 28th, 2018 – I walked down the beach twice today. This picture taken around 7:30 PM. The air was still cold but you can definitely feel the increased warmth of the sun.
Friday, March 30th, 2018 – Another evening picture. Still lots of ice close to shore but melting fast.
Saturday, March 31st, 2018 – A beautiful day. I ventured down the beach late morning and took this picture near 13th street looking towards Collingwood. Lots of ice but open water clearly visible. Temperature this morning was 3 degrees.
Saturday, March 31st, 2018 – Snapped this picture crossing onto Shore Lane returning from beach one. The feature photographed is a sand dune formed by an open channel without trees where northwest wind deposits sand from the beach. Incredible how much sand has drifted across the open field..











Changing ice on Georgian Bay

One of the problems with taking pictures of Georgian Bay from Wasaga Beach, is that you hardly have a birds-eye view. The bay appears frozen from where I’m standing, but you really have no idea of the actual ice conditions. At the edge if the ice, berms form from crashing waves that obscure your view of the horizon. It can appear that there is more ice than there really is.

NASA offers a service called Worldview where you can look up satellite photography by location and date. Using Worldview you can get a sense of how the present year compares to prior years in terms of ice cover.

To illustrate how misleading views from the beach can be, below is a picture taken on Saturday, March 24th, 2018. This picture is paired with satellite photography from the same date.

Saturday, March 24th, 2018 – looking out across the ice toward Collingwood.
Saturday, March 24th, 2018 – Satellite photography showing that Georgian Bay is mostly wide open. Note that Lake Simcoe to the southeast is entirely frozen over as usually this time of year.

The red arrow in the picture above is pointing to where I’m walking on Wasaga Beach at the south end of Georgian Bay. Not a lot of ice from this vantage point.  Last year, in 2017, there was even less ice believe it or not. It’s interesting to contrast this year with colder winters in 2014 and 2015 close to the same date. It’s hard to compare exactly the same date year over year, because on days that are overcast the satellite photography doesn’t clearly show the extent of the ice.

Note the difference in the extent of the ice in 2015 and 2014 below. I’m not a meteorologist, but I’ve got to think that having the bay open with warm water at this time in March means a warmer more moderate spring. Or maybe it means more snow? I have no idea!

March 23, 2015 (three years ago) – The skies were clear this day. You’re looking at ice and snow cover and not cloud cover. Note that Georgian Bay is full of ice. The south part of the bay being packed with ice is counter-intuitive, but the prevailing winds from the north west drive the ice south as it breaks up. Note that Lake Simcoe is frozen solid.
March 23rd, 2014 – This winter was one for the record books. Georgian Bay almost entirely covered with ice in late March, very different than this year.

The point is, ice cover is hugely variable from year to year. Unfortunately, the records at the NASA site date back only to 2003 so it is hard to compare years in detail. Clearly 2014 and 2015 were cold winters.

I’d be negligent not to point out that 2015 was the first winter that anyone ever walked across Georgian Bay on foot, an incredible achievement.

An article describing the journey exactly three years ago today appears in the Wiarton Echo.

Scott Parent and Zane Davies walking across Georgian Bay for the first time ever heading out March 11th in 2015.

Hats off the Scott and Zane. I get nervous 100 metres from shore. It’s quite a feat to walk all the way across Georgian Bay from the Bruce Peninsula to twelve mile bay (82 kilometres).

I’ve apparently been chronicling my personal walks down Wasaga Beach for two rather warm winters. I’m not looking forward to what the truly cold winter feels like!

Week of Sunday, March 18th, 2018

Weekly Temperature
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
Mar 18 Mar 19 Mar 20 Mar 21 Mar 22 Mar 23 Mar 24
High 3 -4 0 0 0 0 -2
Low -5 -7 -11 -4 -3 -3 -6

The sun has finally returned. YAY! This week I found myself walking down the ice a few days rather than walking down the sand. The features out on the ice are interesting. I wouldn’t venture out too far thought. It just hasn’t been cold enough after the warm spell in late February.

Sunday, March 18th, 2018 – low clouds looking out across the ice from Wasaga Beach
Monday, March 19th, 2018 – I walked down the beach twice on Monday. This picture taking from beach one two hours before sunset.
Monday, March 19th, 2018 – It’s been cold so I decided to walk the length of the beach out on the ice. I stay pretty close to shore because I just don’t trust the ice is uniformly thick. Too many currents and I’ve seen open water I can’t explain even in temperatures well below freezing.
Tuesday, March 20th, 2018 – Perfect conditions for walking out on the ice again today. Strange to say, but sunny days in March are the best time of year. You can feel the warmth of the sun and not a person in sight.
Wednesday, March 21st, 2018 – Giant cracks starting to appear. I remember the same thing last year. The ice is still plenty thick and the flotation would be enough will hold my weight despite the cracks.
This is disturbing – If you look closely, this shows evidence of ice that broke up and recently froze over. I can say with confidence this feature was not here two days ago. I guess my trust that the ice is safe is misplaced.
Friday, March 23rd, 2018 – I stayed off the ice on purpose because two para-sailers were criss-crossing the ice on skis and I didn’t want to get in their way. There are less ice berms than last year and the ice in places is suitable for skating. They have a clear channel the full length of the beach (~14 km)
Friday, March 23rd, 2018 – I snapped this picture as one of two parasailers passed me by – he waved but I didn’t catch this in the picture.
Saturday, March 24th, 2018 – looking out across the ice toward Collingwood..