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Historical Ice Out Data

4/30/22 – Since 1990 we’ve been reporting Sawbill Lake’s ice out date to the University of New York at Buffalo. They provided us this handy graph the other day showing the ice out dates we’ve reported over the years.

The latest ice out we have on record was May 18, 1996. The earliest March 27th, 2012 with a mean ice out of April 28th.

As things stand I expect the ice will be around for at least another week, if not more. The five day forecast shows highs in the 40s with lows mostly below freezing and the possibly rain.

The road to the lake and campground remains completely snowed in.

The vast majority of ground remains covered in feet of snow, but a few patches with southern exposure are beginning to open up revealing signs of spring. The most springy of which are the daffodils and crocus popping through the snow behind the crew house. -Jessica

Daffodils giving us a lesson in perseverance.
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Current Snow and Ice Measurements

4/26/22 – Yesterday afternoon Sawyer and I ventured a little further out on the lake for the official ice measurement. We found 36 inches from the bottom of the ice to the top of the snow. The top 19 inches were mostly frozen snow and slush with the bottom 17 inches solid ice.

Sawyer drilling the test hole.

A little progress was made on the snow melting front this past weekend as well, although that slowed to a halt Monday and Tuesday with temperatures staying below freezing. -Jessica

Average of 29 inches of snowpack in the woods as of 9am this morning.
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Hello, spring? Are you there?

4/21/22 – Although it really doesn’t look like spring around here, our first crew member of the season showed up yesterday which means paddling season is just around the corner…right? Per tradition, we had him measure the current ice thickness on Sawbill Lake. As of 1:30pm today Sawyer measured at least 42″ from the bottom of the ice to the top of the snow, which is about all our auger could handle and just longer than our official measuring stick. The top 20″ was mostly comprised of snow and frozen slush. Under the main hole there was lots of variation in ice. One side we couldn’t feel the bottom edge of the ice and the other side seemed to taper off closer to the 42″ mark.

We were measuring between the canoe landing and Mouse Island. The side of the hole closest to the landing just kept going…

The forecast for the next few days looks like mostly rain, so it’ll be interesting to see how much the liquid precipitation eats away at the snow and ice. Also of note, I measured 32″ of snow in the woods yesterday morning. -Jessica

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April Snow Showers

4/18/22 – We don’t have any new ice measurements to share, because, well, it hasn’t been worth expending the energy to drill a new hole! Temperatures have continued to hover around freezing during the day and dip well below freezing at night. We’ve also gotten 8+ inches of snow and counting in the last week. Forecasts show more snow and cold until about next Friday, when the weather is then threatening to turn towards more true spring-like conditions.

Sawbill Lake looking north, taken today.
Same view from April 16th 2021.

Last year, the ice went out on this date, April 18th. I’ve seen a few news sources assert that Minnesota spring is about a week behind last year, but it sure seems farther behind than that up here. Happily, regardless of how much base ice you start with, the ice out process always happens relatively quickly once the right weather conditions set it.

This is a current picture, enough snow to hunt for Easter eggs on the roof!

We’ll keep you posted as we wait for the sunshine and warm winds!


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Let the Countdown Begin!

4/9/22 – On their way out for a ski this afternoon the Shirleys measured a total of 41 inches of ice and snow on Sawbill Lake. The bottom 20 inches were solid ice and the top 21 frozen slush and snow.

Dan displaying proper ice drilling form. The key is a good wide base.
The official ice measuring stick is just long enough to get the job done.

Today’s sunshine is a welcome sight after we received 8 plus inches of heavy snow in less than a 12 hours timespan last week. Wednesday morning I woke up to the sound of a cracking branch and the subsequent thud nearby. Let’s just say Wednesday was not a day to go for a walk in the woods. In my short trip to the office that morning I came across a handful of substantial branches that would have done a lot of damage to anyone trying to break their fall. The forecast is looking like more sloppy weather tomorrow so I better get outside and soak up some rays while I can!


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Above Normal Precipitation

4/2/22 – Great news recently from the US National Weather Service Duluth! According to one of their recent Facebook posts:

The latest drought monitor shows improving drought conditions across both MN and WI. The last 90 days of above normal precipitation has had a positive impact on our drought status. See the latest drought monitor for more info:

I highly recommend poking around on the drought monitor website linked above. They have lots of interactive maps to play around with. Below are a couple I found that highlight the progress that’s been made when contrasting late August 2021 through the end of March 2022. -Jessica

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Technical Difficulties

3/29/22 – If you tried calling over the past few days our apologies if you weren’t able to get through! We’ve been experiencing some technical difficulties with both our phones and internet, but we’ve found a work around that will do the trick until they can be completely patched back up. Please feel free to try again! -Jessica

Clear skies over Sawbill Lake just before the weekend.
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3/17/22 – This past weekend I called in the reinforcements to help accomplish some very critical late winter activities.

First up, I needed help finishing a puzzle I had started before Thanksgiving. Turns out I continue to not be a puzzler.

Second, I needed assistance building an epic snow fort in one of the giant piles of snow we’ve amassed throughout the course of the winter. Mission accomplished.

Last, it was all hands on deck for a solid wood hauling session.

A successful weekend indeed and just in the nick of time. Things really warmed up just after everyone left with rain most of the day yesterday creating one icy mess on the gravel roads (think luge course with standing water on it). Luckily after some solid work put in by the Cook County Highway Department and a late afternoon break in the clouds most of the ice has melted off the plowed gravel roads and travel is easy going once again. -Jessica

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Swimming in Snow

2/25/22 – Last winter was a major snoozer when it came to snow, thankfully not the case this winter!  To give an idea, about one year ago I measured 18″ of cumulative snow depth, today we have 36″.  -Jessica

With the snow just topping my trusty yard stick I got a little crafty and repurposed this retired paddle. Pretty sure I was a little optimistic going all the way up to 50 inches, but I can dream…