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.
Did you miss our sign-up? Please join if you wish to use our Facebook social media group where people like you upload photos and note the state of a beach you might be interested in on the day you plan to go. Sign up and we'll send you an email invite to the BloomFinder social media group. We use Facebook to notify users when new satellite images are available.
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 19, 2019. West Side Up-wells and Variable Algal Conditions Prevail on the East Beaches.
And now…the north basin
August 9, 2019. Blooms enter Traverse Bay and the East Beaches tackle variable water conditions.
August 4, 2019. Wind-Driven currents give some East Side Beaches a break
July 30, 2019. Widespread algae with abundant Harmful Algal Bloom’s (HAB’s) observed near East Beaches on July 27
July 27, 2019. Sad but true. East beaches vacant from Elk Island to Lester Beach.
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).
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 23, 2019- Favorable conditions for the west side
July 15, 2019
July 10, 2019
June 30, 2019
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
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.