REGIONAL— A one-day burst of summer-like heat tripped the switch on winter here on Monday, wiping away the last remnants of ice cover on all but a handful of area lakes, including Lake Vermilion. …
REGIONAL— A one-day burst of summer-like heat tripped the switch on winter here on Monday, wiping away the last remnants of ice cover on all but a handful of area lakes, including Lake Vermilion. As of noon on Monday, most of Lake Vermilion still sported a hefty cover of ice.
But afternoon highs that topped 80 degrees in most locations later in the day melted all but a few lingering floes in Big Bay. By midday Tuesday, just two patches of floating ice were visible from McKinley Park and reports from other corners of the lake signaled ice-free conditions. Those last floes were gone by Wednesday, which put Vermilion’s official ice-out date at May 8.
It was an abrupt end to the ice season, which lasted a full six months this winter, one of the longest periods of ice cover in recent years. And it was a surprise to many, who had expected the ice to linger into the weekend of fishing opener. As of the third week of April, the lake still held snow cover and three feet of rock hard ice. But two weeks of above-average temperatures, plentiful sunshine and wind, beginning later in the month, sparked the rapid ice melt.
As of Monday, small and medium-sized lakes to the south and west of Snowbank Lake were ice-free, according to a Forest Service pilot stationed in Ely. Ice remained on portions of Basswood, Burntside, Snowbank, and La Croix, but those lakes likely cleared as well during the week. Inclement weather prevented most pilots from doing aerial reconnaissance on Tuesday and Wednesday, so updates were not possible until after this week’s presstime.
A number of lakes cleared of ice on Monday, including Pelican, White Iron, Garden, Farm, and Eagles Nest 2. Shagawa Lake, in Ely, was also ice-free as of Monday.