Welcome BloomFinder members!

This page provides high resolution satellite images of the south basin of Lake Winnipeg for this open water season. These images show where floating algae has become abundant in the last couple of days. If you are new to BloomFinder we suggest you review the 2018 archive. The archive will get you started on understanding the dynamics of the basin and help you to interpret the images.

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Blooms in high resolution

This image, captured in 2017, is an example of a mid-summer bloom that also shows the different water masses pooling in the lake.

Not all days on the lake are this cloud free (or filled with algal blooms, thankfully).  Although the lake has blooms in the spring and fall fewer people see the cold water blooms. In this late summer image we see the south basin is sourced by water from the Red River Valley to the south via the Red River and from the Winnipeg River in the Precambrian Shield to the east. The pattern of muddy and dark water is a common, and variable, site in the basin that depends on the inflow of each river and how the wind and currents move the water masses. It is not uncommon to see algal blooms where nutrient rich turbid and relatively clear and well lit water masses mix. The wind can deposit algae high on beaches due to swell, or simply float to the surface during calm summer periods. Warmer lake temperatures also increase the potential for summer blooms of cyanobacteria. The cold water blooms are a different type of algae that do not float. Satellite data shows the surface and near surface conditions only.

This image is an example that shows the spatial variability of algae from not only from one side of the lake to the other, but also for beaches  <10 km apart.  The satellite images found here can be clicked on with your mouse and zoomed into the real satellite data using BloomFinders mapping service. We’ll add imagery to this page as the summer progresses. When zoomed in, it is even apparent that differences are apparent along Grand Beach.

August 14, 2017. Turbid, or muddy, water from the Red River moved north along the west shore. Meanwhile, the stained but slightly more clear water from the Winnipeg River pooled in Traverse Bay, and into the center of the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg. Click    here    for high resolution satellite image. Modified ESA data.

August 14, 2017. Turbid, or muddy, water from the Red River moved north along the west shore. Meanwhile, the stained but slightly more clear water from the Winnipeg River pooled in Traverse Bay, and into the center of the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg. Click here for high resolution satellite image. Modified ESA data.

 

August 19, 2019. West Side Up-wells and Variable Algal Conditions Prevail on the East Beaches.

August 19, 2019. Westerlies continue to extend this summers dominant algal patterns. The dark band of water, which now extends along the entire west shore, indicates bottom water mainly free of algae has moved towards shore as offshore winds move the surface waters east. The algal blooms imaged here are strongly mixed in the water as this image was captured after strong west winds on Sunday August 18, less than one day before the satellite overpass. The intensity of these blooms look a bit more subdued when compared to images below captured in late July and early August under calm conditions when most of the algae floated to the surface. Bands of algae are now widespread in all areas of the basin, including Traverse Bay. The effects of winds on the blooms can are evident as branch-like patterns that be seen on an west-to-east axis, and in particular north of Gimli. If you are travelling to the lake the west beaches or Patricia Beach are the best option now. Most the east beaches are now exposed to varying amounts of algal blooms as the bands of algae move with the west wind. Winds later this week are forecast to shift east and then later south which may help the east-side this weekend. Click  here  to look at the high resolution image data and see the waves push blooms into the Hillside  Beach lagoon! Modied ESA data.

August 19, 2019. Westerlies continue to extend this summers dominant algal patterns. The dark band of water, which now extends along the entire west shore, indicates bottom water mainly free of algae has moved towards shore as offshore winds move the surface waters east. The algal blooms imaged here are strongly mixed in the water as this image was captured after strong west winds on Sunday August 18, less than one day before the satellite overpass. The intensity of these blooms look a bit more subdued when compared to images below captured in late July and early August under calm conditions when most of the algae floated to the surface. Bands of algae are now widespread in all areas of the basin, including Traverse Bay. The effects of winds on the blooms can are evident as branch-like patterns that be seen on an west-to-east axis, and in particular north of Gimli. If you are travelling to the lake the west beaches or Patricia Beach are the best option now. Most the east beaches are now exposed to varying amounts of algal blooms as the bands of algae move with the west wind. Winds later this week are forecast to shift east and then later south which may help the east-side this weekend. Click here to look at the high resolution image data and see the waves push blooms into the Hillside Beach lagoon! Modied ESA data.

 

And now…the north basin

July 23, 2019. The north basin is 100 km across from west to east, or about the same distance as the drive from Winnipeg to Victoria Beach. The offshore algal blooms which extend on a south to north axis are more than 120 km long. Everything about this basin IS BIG! The image shows an optical gradient also on a south to north direction as the water depth increases to the north. This allows sediments to permanently fall to the lake be below the effects of waves. Nearshore, bright reflections are evident west of Reindeer Island, just above this text, due to shallow water re-suspension which reflects a lot of sunlight back to the satellite. Re-suspension is also occurring along the east coast along the very edge of the Precambrian Shield. The east side of the lake is riddled with granite shoals. Click on the image, or click    here   , to open our map server to see the hundreds of shoals that make navigation here super challenging. You may also be surprised to find two jet planes and their shadows on the water crossing the basin! Their contrails (condensation trails) are easy to see as are the planes, too. Remember, satellites are higher than 500 km and jet planes fly very close to the earth. You might be puzzled when you see how the planes and contrails look when imaged by a satellite! Hint, it takes about 4 seconds to make each of these two images shown above and satellites have more than one “camera”. Can you find the planes and figure out why these features look like this? Modified ESA data.

July 23, 2019. The north basin is 100 km across from west to east, or about the same distance as the drive from Winnipeg to Victoria Beach. The offshore algal blooms which extend on a south to north axis are more than 120 km long. Everything about this basin IS BIG! The image shows an optical gradient also on a south to north direction as the water depth increases to the north. This allows sediments to permanently fall to the lake be below the effects of waves. Nearshore, bright reflections are evident west of Reindeer Island, just above this text, due to shallow water re-suspension which reflects a lot of sunlight back to the satellite. Re-suspension is also occurring along the east coast along the very edge of the Precambrian Shield. The east side of the lake is riddled with granite shoals. Click on the image, or click here, to open our map server to see the hundreds of shoals that make navigation here super challenging. You may also be surprised to find two jet planes and their shadows on the water crossing the basin! Their contrails (condensation trails) are easy to see as are the planes, too. Remember, satellites are higher than 500 km and jet planes fly very close to the earth. You might be puzzled when you see how the planes and contrails look when imaged by a satellite! Hint, it takes about 4 seconds to make each of these two images shown above and satellites have more than one “camera”. Can you find the planes and figure out why these features look like this? Modified ESA data.

August 9, 2019. Blooms enter Traverse Bay and the East Beaches tackle variable water conditions.

August 9, 2019. Clouds to the west and extensive algal blooms. The east beaches have strongly variable conditions. Zoom into this image and look at Patricia Beach. The south end is not a good swim, yet less than 1 km to the north - NICE!! Zoom into this image    here   .

August 9, 2019. Clouds to the west and extensive algal blooms. The east beaches have strongly variable conditions. Zoom into this image and look at Patricia Beach. The south end is not a good swim, yet less than 1 km to the north - NICE!! Zoom into this image here.

 

August 4, 2019. Wind-Driven currents give some East Side Beaches a break

August 4, 2019. After persistent movements of floating algae with the west wind we can see up-welling along the west shore. Up-welling of bottom water, lacking floating algae, occurs on both shores when offshore winds persist for a few days that sets-up a rotational current. This appears as a dark band along shore as the relatively clear water reflects less light back to the satellite. Here, on the east shore, wind-driven currents intersect the erratic shoreline to concentrate blooms in some areas (north of Patricia Beach) and also creates some nearshore pockets of water with less algae in other areas like Grand Beach and intermittently to the north including Victoria Beach. Traverse Bay is now starting to show algae drifting in from the north. Traverse Bay has been important to many East Side cottagers and beach-goers this year. Click    Here    for the high resolution image (currenty uploading). Modified ESA data.

August 4, 2019. After persistent movements of floating algae with the west wind we can see up-welling along the west shore. Up-welling of bottom water, lacking floating algae, occurs on both shores when offshore winds persist for a few days that sets-up a rotational current. This appears as a dark band along shore as the relatively clear water reflects less light back to the satellite. Here, on the east shore, wind-driven currents intersect the erratic shoreline to concentrate blooms in some areas (north of Patricia Beach) and also creates some nearshore pockets of water with less algae in other areas like Grand Beach and intermittently to the north including Victoria Beach. Traverse Bay is now starting to show algae drifting in from the north. Traverse Bay has been important to many East Side cottagers and beach-goers this year. Click Here for the high resolution image (currenty uploading). Modified ESA data.

 

July 30, 2019. Widespread algae with abundant Harmful Algal Bloom’s (HAB’s) observed near East Beaches on July 27

July 30, 2019. After persistent westerly winds there is little reprieve from the blooms on the East Beaches. We cruised the shoreline from Elk Island to Lester Beach on July 27 and saw more blooms, including extensive blooms of blue-green algae, than we’ve ever seen on the lake. Click on this high resolution image to see the native satellite data and discuss this with your peers and political leadership (currently uploading image). Modified ESA data.

July 30, 2019. After persistent westerly winds there is little reprieve from the blooms on the East Beaches. We cruised the shoreline from Elk Island to Lester Beach on July 27 and saw more blooms, including extensive blooms of blue-green algae, than we’ve ever seen on the lake. Click on this high resolution image to see the native satellite data and discuss this with your peers and political leadership (currently uploading image). Modified ESA data.

July 27, 2019. Sad but true. East beaches vacant from Elk Island to Lester Beach.

July25+2019+screenshot.png

We traveled by boat from Traverse Bay to Lester Beach and found blooms so extensive there was little reason to continue farther south. All beaches were vacant except for a beach volleyball game at Victoria Beach. The BloomFinder Project aims to help users of this lake to adapt to the changing conditions. Sometimes, however, there is no escaping the ill state of our lake as blooms become so extensive there is no reprieve. We aim to educate and help and the intent is not to publish dramatic content but these were the worst conditions I’ve seen on the lake since first coming here as a child in 1976. Our hope with the content provided below helps to focus efforts to improve our lake and help us adapt to the changing conditions.

The map to the right shows video footage locations for the links to YouTube and is a window of the larger satellite image found below for July 25th. Near coincident observations at lake level guide of what we can see from a recent satellite image taken from low earth orbit. Also, images like this show what the lake is actually like in mid-summer of 2019. Westerly winds persisted for several days which moved the blooms eastward, then the wind decreased and enabled the algae to float to the surface.

Traverse Bay video with no algae visible (Video 1).

East side of Elk Island at the transition to an algal bloom visible on the July 25th satellite image (video area 2)

West of Victoria Beach at the transition to a bloom (video area 3).

Cyanobacteria, a harmful algal bloom that releases toxins, near Victoria Beach and Hillside Beach, and another here (video area 3).

A vertical video looking down off the boat into the bloom as the boat moves slowly forward, north of Lester Beach.

 

July 25, 2019. Prominent westerlies continue!

July 25, 2019. The effects of persistent westerly winds continue to move blooms towards the east side beaches. This pattern will likely continue through Saturday July 27 due to a forecast of continued west winds. Meanwhile, on the west side, conditions are more favorable for water recreation this weekend. In particular, upwelling of relatively clear bottom water (with little floating algae) is occurring now most notably in the Winnipeg Beach and Dunnottar areas. For those on the east side you can expect changing algal conditions. For the boaters of the east beaches, you might try Traverse Bay on Saturday as fewer blooms will be visible, and there will be some protection from the west wind. Winds shift to the south Sunday, which could change what you see on the east side beaches Saturday. Some beaches may improve! Use the BloomFinder FaceBook Group to let your neighbors know if you have good beach conditions! To see this image in high resolution use our mapping service, click    here   . Modified ESA data.

July 25, 2019. The effects of persistent westerly winds continue to move blooms towards the east side beaches. This pattern will likely continue through Saturday July 27 due to a forecast of continued west winds. Meanwhile, on the west side, conditions are more favorable for water recreation this weekend. In particular, upwelling of relatively clear bottom water (with little floating algae) is occurring now most notably in the Winnipeg Beach and Dunnottar areas. For those on the east side you can expect changing algal conditions. For the boaters of the east beaches, you might try Traverse Bay on Saturday as fewer blooms will be visible, and there will be some protection from the west wind. Winds shift to the south Sunday, which could change what you see on the east side beaches Saturday. Some beaches may improve! Use the BloomFinder FaceBook Group to let your neighbors know if you have good beach conditions! To see this image in high resolution use our mapping service, click here. Modified ESA data.

July 23, 2019- Favorable conditions for the west side

July 23, 2019 - We’ve been a bit unlucky with cloud cover lately when the high resolution satellite passed over the lake. Instead, here is a lower resolution image (300 m) taken from a different satellite that shows the large extent of algal blooms in the south basin this week. This image shows extensive offshore blooms in green. These blooms can be seen near the mouth of the Red River all the way to Manigotogan River/Black Island area. The offshore booms extend onto to the east beaches shoreline in many areas including Grand Beach, Hillside Beach, and Victoria Beach due to westerly winds. Lester Beach, just north of Grand Beach had better conditions, shown here as darker water which has less algae and sediment. The west side has favorable conditions for recreation due to an up-welling event shown as darker water all along this shore. During up-welling, the offshore winds push the surface water away and a return current flows along the bottom of the lake (where floating algae are not found) and seeps up onto the west shore. The muddy brown plume from the Red River is visible near the mouth and in the Patricia Beach area. The “tea-stained” water from the Winnipeg River plume can also be seen entering Traverse Bay. The bright areas in the bay show where high concentrations of sediment were re-suspended from the shallows by waves. Sediment at the surface of the water reflects sunlight back to the satellite strongly.

July 23, 2019 - We’ve been a bit unlucky with cloud cover lately when the high resolution satellite passed over the lake. Instead, here is a lower resolution image (300 m) taken from a different satellite that shows the large extent of algal blooms in the south basin this week. This image shows extensive offshore blooms in green. These blooms can be seen near the mouth of the Red River all the way to Manigotogan River/Black Island area. The offshore booms extend onto to the east beaches shoreline in many areas including Grand Beach, Hillside Beach, and Victoria Beach due to westerly winds. Lester Beach, just north of Grand Beach had better conditions, shown here as darker water which has less algae and sediment. The west side has favorable conditions for recreation due to an up-welling event shown as darker water all along this shore. During up-welling, the offshore winds push the surface water away and a return current flows along the bottom of the lake (where floating algae are not found) and seeps up onto the west shore. The muddy brown plume from the Red River is visible near the mouth and in the Patricia Beach area. The “tea-stained” water from the Winnipeg River plume can also be seen entering Traverse Bay. The bright areas in the bay show where high concentrations of sediment were re-suspended from the shallows by waves. Sediment at the surface of the water reflects sunlight back to the satellite strongly.

July 15, 2019

July 15, 2019. Although partially cloud covered, offshore blooms are now developing and can be seen in this image over large areas but most notably on the east side of the lake south of the Manigotogan River where tea-stained water rich in dissolved organics enters the lake as plumes. Recently, the west side of the south basin has had better conditions for recreation when compared to the east beaches as an upwelling event has brought bottom water free of floating algae up onto the shore. This looks like darker water image pixels running along the shore as a band because the relatively clear water absorbs the suns light, and less returns to the satellite. We have great images of upwelling in our   2018 archive   on the west shore and in Traverse Bay. Also this relatively clear water shows sand waves visible in shallow water south of Willow Island. Zoom into the real satellite data on our website and see the shallow water sand waves just south of the lagoon at Gimli. Yes you can at times see the lake depth changes! Zoom into this satellite image by clicking here. Modified ESA data.

July 15, 2019. Although partially cloud covered, offshore blooms are now developing and can be seen in this image over large areas but most notably on the east side of the lake south of the Manigotogan River where tea-stained water rich in dissolved organics enters the lake as plumes. Recently, the west side of the south basin has had better conditions for recreation when compared to the east beaches as an upwelling event has brought bottom water free of floating algae up onto the shore. This looks like darker water image pixels running along the shore as a band because the relatively clear water absorbs the suns light, and less returns to the satellite. We have great images of upwelling in our 2018 archive on the west shore and in Traverse Bay. Also this relatively clear water shows sand waves visible in shallow water south of Willow Island. Zoom into the real satellite data on our website and see the shallow water sand waves just south of the lagoon at Gimli. Yes you can at times see the lake depth changes! Zoom into this satellite image by clicking here. Modified ESA data.

July 10, 2019

July 10, 2019. Algal blooms are beginning to be visible in the offshore zone of the south basin (in the source imagery which is harder to see in this graphic). Blooms are starting to show also in the nearshore areas by Victoria Beach, Hillside Beach, Grand Beach, and Patricia Beach. The west shore lacks these starter blooms. The lagoon at Grand Beach, which is often used for watersports, is starting to show algal growth as well. Click    here    to see the full resolution satellite image. Modified ESA data.

July 10, 2019. Algal blooms are beginning to be visible in the offshore zone of the south basin (in the source imagery which is harder to see in this graphic). Blooms are starting to show also in the nearshore areas by Victoria Beach, Hillside Beach, Grand Beach, and Patricia Beach. The west shore lacks these starter blooms. The lagoon at Grand Beach, which is often used for watersports, is starting to show algal growth as well. Click here to see the full resolution satellite image. Modified ESA data.

June 30, 2019

June 30, 2019. The offshore zone continues to hold less suspended sediment, algal blooms in some lagoons affect local beaches temporarily, and offshore blooms start to become visible to the satellite. Click    here    to see the satellite imagery. Modified ESA data.

June 30, 2019. The offshore zone continues to hold less suspended sediment, algal blooms in some lagoons affect local beaches temporarily, and offshore blooms start to become visible to the satellite. Click here to see the satellite imagery. Modified ESA data.

June 30, 2019.

A clear warm day with West/Southwest winds. This image shows three main patterns in the south basin.

The offshore zone with dark pixels shows relatively clear water. Clear water has less suspended material to reflect sunlight, so it appears dark to the satellite. The offshore zone of relatively clear water occurs most springs and into summer before the lake is fully mixed. The brightest lake image pixels occur north and west of Hecla Island where these shallow bays easily resuspend bottom sediment from wind action. Some of these sediments can be seen tracking south past the Hecla Island golf course before being entrained into eastward moving flows south of Black Island. These visually bright suspended sediments, and those east of Victoria Beach and Elk Island, have drifted away from shore. The previous days winds were from the east and stirred up the bottom in the shallows. A shift to westerlies before this image was captured spread the sediments to the east. The pattern of sediments evident in these images often results from weather from the past few days.

Algal blooms are starting. Offshore blooms are still rare but are visible NW of Patricia Beach. Nearshore algal blooms are evident in localized areas in and near lagoons at Hillside Beach, Patricia Beach, and Gimli. Each of these lagoons warms earlier and receives nutrients from the lake. Interestingly, the lagoon at Grand Beach has been land-locked this year and has only pooled water from upstream. This lagoon, like the one on Elk Island, does not appear to have pronounced algae. Algae was a problem for boaters and skiers here last year. This area is used for boating recreation as the lake is seldom calm. Last year there was more local rain and the outflow of the lagoon at Grand Beach was breached. Years with higher rains or water levels help the ebb-and-flow of water to occur. Water levels have been low since August of 2017.

 Algal blooms are apparent in the Red River delta. Like some lagoons, algae transport away from these water bodies and affect nearby beaches. Remember, in wetlands not all things green in a satellite image are algae.  However, complex water movements that carry blooms reveal the tell-tale signs. Blooms that entered the lake near the Red River can be seen spreading along the shore to the east past the Brokenhead River, as well as to the west of the Red River.

 Use our mapping service to zoom into the native resolution satellite image. Have a detailed look at the water mass patterns in the Red River Delta – they tell a story.

June 25, 2019

June 25, 2019. A typical late spring/early summer image of the south basin. Modified ESA data.

June 25, 2019. A typical late spring/early summer image of the south basin. Modified ESA data.

June 25, 2019

The south basin remains mainly turbid (muddy) but small blooms have been reported. Some are evident in this image, like that of the lagoon near Willow Island on the west shore. Spotty cloud cover and the cloud shadows are visible. In this image the darker water pixels infer slightly higher surface water clarity as clear water absorbs sunlight and so less reflects back to the satellite. The offshore zone of relatively clear water west of Elk Island extends to Hecla and Black Islands. This is common in spring and early summer. The offshore zone is distant from sources of sediment from rivers and that resuspended by waves in the shallows. The more muddy the water the brighter it looks in the image. The bright bays west and north of Hecla Isl. are shallow and resuspend sediments often due to wind. The image to the south where the Red River inflows was mainly cloudy and was not uploaded. However, the plume is visible moving north on the west side of the basin up to Gimli. Modified ESA data.

 

July 5 2019

July 5 2019. All clear (in most areas)! The small algal blooms evident in the last image in and near lagoons have subsided as water movements in-and-out have increased with winds and mixing. Some local blooms persist in the area of the Brokenhead River and near Patricia Beach. Winds resuspended sediments along the clay shores and shallow flats on the east side of Traverse Bay. Modified ESA data.

July 5 2019. All clear (in most areas)! The small algal blooms evident in the last image in and near lagoons have subsided as water movements in-and-out have increased with winds and mixing. Some local blooms persist in the area of the Brokenhead River and near Patricia Beach. Winds resuspended sediments along the clay shores and shallow flats on the east side of Traverse Bay. Modified ESA data.