Environmental / Weather

State of the Sound Report – 2015-01-28

Redwood1890-20150128-_1281700_DxOThis is a photo from the 28th. Clear skies, below average temperatures, and little snow have been the norm since the Big Sound and Georgian Bay pretty much froze over earlier this month. The Sound is basically ice with a bit of hard packed snow which makes it easy for walking, but perhaps not that great for X-Country skiing. I spoke with a fisherman today and he estimates the ice is 12 to 14 inches (30-35 cm) thick in the Sound. (January 2015)

State of the Sound Report – January 21, 2015

Redwood1890-20150119-_DSC7557_DxOCold and crisp, full ice coverage, all with gorgeous shades of blue. There have been a few snow machines on the ice but discretion is the better part of valour, and a little more cold will ensure safe travel. This is the view from the ground at Waubano Beach in Parry Sound looking to the northwest. That black ‘blight’ to the upper right of the photo is the salt pile on Smelter Wharf. Parry Sound provides the only practical deep water harbour on Eastern Georgian Bay for the marine delivery of road salt. The shipments start in the Fall and are gone by the time Spring arrives. It was a tough season this Fall with deliveries delayed by wind and waves.

The ice coverage has meant the daily dump of snow, largely lake effect snow, has eased and temperatures have dropped. Time to get out and play on the trails.

‘Clic on the Pic’ for a closer view.

State of the Sound Report – 2015-01-14

Redwood1890-20150114-_DSC7207_DxOBoth the harbour and Big Sound are frozen over as of January 14th. It likely ‘came together’ the night of the 13th or early on the 14th. I was out very early on the 13th, a very cold day with the mist still rising from the slightly warmer water. The ice coverage may mean less snow for Parry Sound and colder temperatures without the moderating effect of the open water, and perhaps a little more sun. I have seen hovercrafts but not yet snow machines on the Big Sound. The brave ones will be out before long.

JB – Communications Officer

State of the Harbour Report – 2015-01-05

That’s Parry Sound Harbour. Remember yesterday’s photo of the Big Sound, wide open and with just a bit of ice on the far shore? Well here’s a photo taken the same day with Parry Sound Harbour to the left and the Big Sound to the right. Quite a contrast. Tucked in to the lower right you can see where the Seguin River flows into the harbour.

Despite the apparent complete ice coverage I didn’t see any snow machine tracks, but there was a hovercraft heading away from the Champaigne Street dock. By the weekend with the big freeze there should be a virtual highway for the snow machines as they head down the South Channel. The Big Sound will doubtless be iced over but perhaps not yet thick enough to support the weight of a snow machine and rider.


State of the Sound Report – 2015-01-05

The Big Sound – Parry Sound.

Clear sailing as of yesterday (January 5th), but cold with a guarantee of ice in the next few days. But don’t try and enter the harbour (more on this tomorrow). The Big Sound was frozen over on January 1st last year and I suspect it will be ice covered by the weekend with the cold weather we had yesterday, and the forecast for the coming days. It will soon be possible to walk on water.


Water Levels – High, Low or Normal?

After last year’s remarkably low water levels in the Parry Sound region of Georgian Bay this year has seen a welcome rebound. The question now is whether the levels are still low, somewhat high, or perhaps ‘normal’. Well the levels certainly aren’t ‘normal’ in as much as there is seemingly no real normal with anything remotely impacted by weather and climate. What can be reasonably asked is whether water levels in this part of Georgian Bay are close to the historical averages and/or chart datum.

With respect to chart datum in June it seems we are about 0.6 meters above the mean average low water levels and 0.8 meters below the average high water levels. Comfortable average perhaps? Here’s a link to the most revcent Canadian Hydrographic Service data.

Here’s a simpler measure of water levels – a photograph of Zhiishib Rock in the Big Sound just outside Parry Sound harbour. Taken last week with calm conditions  it suggests we are probably close to average in terms of water level. There doesn’t seem to be a high water mark, the topmost dark line, much above the current level, perhaps 20 centimeters (8 inches) or so. This may well represent the mean high water mark for the last few  decades where there has been a fluctuation between alarming high and low water levels. (Click on the photo below for a larger version.)


Regardless, the water levels make boating a bit more comfortable in the area. I was talking to one sailboater who said he was able to get into the government dock at The Pancakes for the first time in a decade.

Despite the high water levels it seems boating traffic is down in this part of Georgian Bay. It might be the higher price of fuel, but it’s probably the cooler and less predictable weather. Temperatures certainly seem to be ‘comfortably cool’ for this time of year with a bit more rain than might be expected. That’s based on my realization that the lawn and garden haven’t yet required watering, and there hasn’t been a need for fans in the windows.

Boating this year is wonderful – lots of water and not too hot. Come on up and enjoy it while summer is still around to welcome you.

JB – Communications Officer

State of the Sound Report – 2014-04-24

Not to be confused with the State of the Bay report (recommended reading) from the Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve. As of yesterday evening, the Big Sound was icy white and thinning (much like my hair). The water is open from Parry Sound harbour to Three Mile Point in spots, but that’s about it. The photo below was taken yesterday evening from Monument Point on the North Shore Rugged Trail just north of Parry Sound looking west.


Walking on Water – Big Sound Style

It’s that time of the year when we are able to walk on water. I’m able to confirm that the Big Sound is frozen over. In some places the ice is a bit ‘mushy’, while in others it’s ‘rock solid’ which is why it’s a good idea to head out on snowshoes So if you decide to wander out, take care. With the deep freeze forecast for the next few days the mushy spots should be solid by this time next week.

The Squadron’s Boating Essentials course being held at Canadore College in Parry Sound is now in session with a total of nine students. Coming this Spring will be the VHF course. Advanced courses are also by arrangement. If you are interested connect with John Mason at training@parrysoundsquadron.ca.

Here’s a sunset shot from yesterday of Parry Island taken ‘off shore’, with Zhiishiib Rock to the right. ‘Clic on the pic’ to see the bigger picture. (JB – Communications Officer)


The Big Picture – Frozen Style

If you are wondering about the big picture, here’s a plot of ice coverage over the eastern Great Lakes as of January 15, 2014. I found it yesterday after posting the photo from Belvedere Hill. Click on the image and you will be able to see the legend which makes things pretty clear. Here’s the link to the site from where the map was taken. (The map you see below is #5 on the list if you follow the link.)

When you click on the image below you can see the Big Sound is in what’s considered ‘Medium Lake Ice’, which thins out until you hit the larger part of Georgian Bay. Lake Erie appears to be ‘blessed’ with even more substantial ice coverage than Georgian Bay. (JB – Communications Officer).