This page provides access to high resolution images of the south basin of Lake Winnipeg. These images can help to show if algae has started to become abundant, and if so where in the last couple of days were the blooms most pronounced.
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Blooms in high resolution
Click on each image to open BloomFinders mapping service and zoom to your area of interest.
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. When zoomed in, it is even apparent that differences are apparent along Grand Beach.
2018 09 03 - Algal drift Moves east and bottom water upwells in the west
Meanwhile...in the north basin - 2018 07 28
July 28, 2018 - The north basin is so large it is hard to appreciate the size of the blooms. This image speaks volumes as to the magnitude of change that has occurred upriver in the watershed. This image is 176 km long on the north axis and the lake is 100 km wide on the east axis. The north basin is deeper and more clear than the south basin in part due to greater depth that enables suspended sediments to deposit on the lakebed, and also due to the inflowing rivers. The Churchill River enters west and north of Long Point and pools relatively clear water where it enters the lake. Blooms often occur there and migrate north and east with the predominant winds as they continue to grow.
2018 06 20
June 20 - All clear! Well, not quite. The very bright reflections shown in the areas around Grindstone and Hecla Provincial Parks results from local resuspension of sediments. Note the pattern of the water masses is similar to the 2017 image above. Some blooms already are present in the lake...can you find them?
Click here for a high resolution satellite image.
2018 07 05
This image was captured less than 24 hours after a strong westerly wind that made for some great body surfing north of Victoria Beach! |n this image cloud and cloud shadows are paired, and the after-effects of the wind storm are most evident along the east shore of the south basin between the Manigotogan and Winnipeg Rivers. Along this coast the resuspension of muddy sediments is very reflective and appears bright in the imagery. The soils along that shore have more clay than those found between Elk Island and the Brokenhead River which is why the satellite see's less reflection along these beaches. At the mouth of the Winnipeg River the combined effects of wind and current make interesting patterns of surface sediments. The offshore zone north and west of Elk Island has the darkest pixels which indicates the surface water is a bit more clear there. If you zoom into the map, you can see algae are present near the mouth of the Red River in a few areas near shore.
Click here for a high resolution image you can zoom into.
2018 07 10
The diverse character of the water masses of the south basin is clear in this image, even before algal patterns emerge this year. Turbid flows entered from the Red River and pooled along the south shore. This water mass appears to have moved north along the east shore past Grand and Hillside Beaches. The contrasting water masses in Traverse Bay result from the tea-stained "humic" water masses from the Winnipeg River, and strongly reflective plumes that extend offshore beyond the shallow mud flats on the east and south shores of Traverse Bay. Although still turbid, the offshore zone of the south basin appears darker due to less reflected light back to the satellite, suggesting the water is slightly more clear there.
Use our online mapping service to zoom into the delta - three main plumes can be seen, including that of the Brokenhead River. While other data would be needed to confirm, the complexity of the patterns of the water bodies in the delta and the visually similar water that pooled between Chalet Beach and Patricia Beach, it appears a net transport of water moved from the delta into the lake. Seiches, which describe water surface level oscillation set-up by persistent and strong winds, are common in the lake. Changes of 1 m to 1.5 m occur each year but are short-lived. Increases in river discharge probably played a role, too.
Click here for a high resolution image you can zoom into and pan over.
2018 07 15
No obvious signs of algal blooms yet, thankfully. The effects of strong westerly winds can be seen from Patricia Beach to Elk Island. Swirling vortices are apparent near each beach, the breaking waves are visible in the shallows, and turbid water plumes entered into the lagoons at Patricia and Hillside Beaches. If you zoom in and look carefully between Elk Island and Victoria Beach or between the Brokenhead River and Patricia Beach, the effects of persistent low water levels, which started in August 2017, can be seen as new growth of vegetation. The new growth does not occur on the beaches as they are too energetic, but shallow flats near their ends break the surf farther offshore and enables plants to colonize. Typically the lake level is higher and prevents this growth but large shallow areas of the intermittently exposed zone have been dry all year.
Click here for a high resolution image you can zoom into and pan over.
2018 07 30
After some untimely cloud cover it is clear that algal bloom season is upon us! As shown, the north half of the south basin was cloud covered yesterday. Algal blooms were readily apparent offshore of Grand Beach and to the north, in the area of Lester Beach, where the blooms were near shore. We observed the algae while on the water in the Victoria Beach area and west side of Elk Island two days ago. The lagoon at Grand Beach is also blooming. Although mixed with some cloud, algae are visible in the middle of the basin just south of the cloud bank.
Check out this image in high resolution using our mapping tools and zoom into the bloom in the Grand Beach area. Follow the algae along the shore near Lester Beach. The winds are still westerly today so on-shore drifting is likely. The state of the lake will be changing quickly from now into late August. Check back often and keep your peers up to date by posting on our social media site.
2018 08 09
Two large algal booms were apparent in the lake yesterday, with the largest concentration apparent near Black River First Nation at the northern extent of Traverse Bay. Winds were calm during this image capture, so the algae would have floated up to the surface after the preceding westerly winds, making imaging easier. The offshore bloom drifted ashore on several of the east-side beaches but in particular on Hillside Beach. Meanwhile, the west side appears to have the more favorable conditions for water recreation when compared to the east side. Last weekend, August 3, an infrequent east wind moved the surface water west which created upwelling all along the east coast from Patricia Beach to Elk Island. As winds stayed low for several days the east-side beaches had clear and cool bottom water all weekend! Several BloomFinders commented on the conditions on our social media site - one BloomFinder said "clear and cool...what a blessing this time of year!" Although algae can be seen along the west side when zoomed in to this image it appears the conditions of last weekend have reversed and to the benefit of our west side communities for now - enjoy! Many people have commented on the poor state of the lagoon at Grand Beach, which is a sheltered area often used for power water sports. Many people have said the algae is so abundant it is no longer usable.
If you are from the Hillside or Victoria Beach area where the blooms are onshore or nearshore , consider visiting the causeway beach (between the mainland and Victoria Beach) or Albert Beach. These beaches have less algae now as they too are west side beaches, but are found on Traverse Bay.
Zoom in to the beaches in your area to see if you can find a beach that is your best bet! If your internet is slow, or its just a nice lazy day, below I've added a few zoom detail images to compare the blooms on west and east side beaches.