Satellite Imagery Sheds Light On Ice-Out Progress, Fires In Northwest Minnesota And Southeast Manitoba

For those of us wondering about the progress of ice-out on area lakes leading up to the May 12 Minnesota fishing opener, the MODIS Today website, which displays daily satellite images, is must-see viewing.

Big Traverse Bay, which forms the U.S. portion of Lake of the Woods, still has a solid covering of ice, but open water is becoming noticeably more prevalent along the South Shore, and Four-Mile Bay at the mouth of the Rainy River has been open for more than a week.

Water temperatures on the Rainy River this afternoon were 48.9 degrees at Wheeler’s Point and 48.8 degrees at Manitou Rapids some 40 miles upstream, so walleyes definitely are in full spawn along the river.

Cloud cover obscured Tuesday’s MODIS Today view of Lake of the Woods, but the satellite images from Monday and today (Wednesday) revealed some interesting contrasts, beyond the progress of ice-out on Lake of the Woods.

As the photos above shows, Monday’s satellite imagery (left) also clearly displays a large forest fire that was burning in southeast Manitoba, along with the County Road 7 Fire in western Roseau County northwest of Greenbush, Minn., which firefighters continued to battle on Monday. Plumes of smoke from the Manitoba fire are clearly evident in Monday’s satellite imagery. Both fires are marked with orange circles.

Fast forward to today’s satellite imagery (right), and extensive patches of brown are visible on the landscape. For perspective, the County Road 7 Fire circled at left burned about 4,000 acres but now has been contained. In southeast Manitoba, the Canadian Broadcast Corp. (CBC) reported Wednesday that the fire in the Rural Municipality of Piney, also circled, has burned 4,700 hectares, which works out to 11,613.95 acres. The fire is not yet under control, CBC reported, and a state of emergency remains in effect for the area.

A story about the Manitoba fire is available here.

In North Dakota, there was just enough cloud cover in the Devils Lake region to obscure Wednesday’s satellite imagery of Devils Lake, but by all accounts, the ice is disappearing quickly, and a few warm, windy days should result in open water throughout the basin.

Bottom line: It’s time to dig out the open water fishing gear if you haven’t done so already. And think fire safety. It’s tinderbox dry out there and barring substantial rains, will remain that way until green-up.