The New Year Starts Cold!

The sky was bright blue on New Years Day but it only got up to about 4 and that was with wind. On the downwind side of the lake the wind was blowing at 20+ mph so the windchill was at least -15 F. That has been the way it has been at the lake for a week or more. It may warm up and snow but then have the temperature dip again. It is Winter!

The picture below shows someone walking on the ice and they look cold. At the same time, there were places where there was slush under the snow and your feet would have gotten wet although the ice is thick enough to prevent you from breaking through. The slush forms as water seeps up through cracks as the extra weight of the snow pushes down on the ice layer. Then, the snow become wet and forms slush but with an insulating layer of snow on top, even sub-zero temperatures don’t freeze the water very quickly even when it is below zero every night. At the same time, if a cross country ski hit the slush and then the cold snow, the ski will ice up immediately which is a real pain.

The inch or so of snow and then strong winds have changed the ice formations and coated them with drifted snow. They used to be in rows, touching each other but now only the tallest “mountains” are above the drifted snow. Yes, the lake is always changing.

And as the snow blows across the lake it makes patterns in the snow and in places blows the ice free of snow. The ripples in the “snow dunes” or slight drifts are always different. Sometimes there are no waves in them but other times there are prominent bands.

If you come up to the lake when it is as cold as it has been, you must be careful. If you fall in, it is an emergency. If you let your bare skin be exposed to below zero windchill, you can get frostbite quickly. The lake is not as forgiving as it is in the Summer. At the same time, with forethought and proper preparation, it is a joy to be out there. It is still early in the season and there may be weak places in the ice. Take self rescue gear if you venture out over water that is deep. Better to be prepared and never use the stuff than to fall through and wish that you had it.

Below is a table (a bit fuzzy) of the temperatures and average wind speed. When the “mean” or average temperature is below zero, you know it is a bit chilly. These temperatures were not a the lake and the lake temperature dipped to -10 degrees.