Unless you literally live under a rock, you have noticed that we have had a lot of wind lately. That is an understatement. I am not going to say “it has never been this windy before” or “I never remember it being this windy” because I believe such statements are usually wrong. It seems like anything that happened more than 5 years ago is considered ancient history anymore and does not count. We all know that the Great Plains in which Nebraska is found are windy, always have been, always will be.
But this past couple of weeks have been darned windy. It seems like every other day there is another high wind warning or advisory for most of the state.
I have always said that nothing ruins ice on our ice-fishing waters, like the wind. Oh sure, obviously some warmth is needed to melt ice, but nothing opens up an ice cap on a body of water faster than the wind. All it takes is a little bit of liquid water on the ice or someplace where it begins to melt away from a shoreline or object in the water and the wind works on that open water edge and enlarges it. When the wind blows 74.3 mph and does so every other day, ice conditions begin to deteriorate and deteriorate rapidly.
Right now, there are many waters in Nebraska where a person can still find a foot or more of ice to fish on. That is plenty of ice, no problem.
Except for the open water only a few yards away where the wind has ripped it open.
There are some waters and some parts of the state where you just plain ain’t going to be getting on the ice right now, and may not for the rest of the winter. The wind already has finished it off. If you are planning to do some ice fishing yet this winter, and I am, just make sure you are very careful. If we get some re-freezing of open areas, that ice may be thinner than you might expect, and if we get some snow cover on top of that, things are going to be even more treacherous–BE CAREFUL (I suppose this is a good time to mention ice safety, again, The Ice Man Cometh).
When we have a mild winter or when we start to lose safe ice for ice-fishing I get grumpy. I get to the point where the next person that walks up to me and says something about the nice winter we have been having, well, I am going to snap one of these days. If you hear a news flash about some kook chasing folks around with a power auger, that’s it, you will know what happened. You fellow ice-fisher persons, don’t forget to visit me in prison or the loony bin, whichever one they send me to.
I was reminded a couple days ago of another reason I hate mild winter weather, especially mild and windy winter weather. . . . I was traveling across Nebraska on another day where they would have issued hurricane warnings if we were on some coast, and the dust was definitely blowing. I pulled off the paved roads to get some pictures. Here is what it looked like down one county road:
Those corn husks were piling up, drifting, into the ditches and blowing across the road. There were lots of husks blowing with the soil.
The air had a dark, dirty look to it. Yes, there were some clouds, but most of it was just plain soil being blown around.
What does this have to do with fishing, or fish & wildlife?
How much snow have we had in most of Nebraska this winter? In some parts we have had darned little, and again there are a lot of folks who think that is just great.
I am not foolish enough to try to predict the weather for the coming months, and a dry winter may not necessarily mean we are going to be dry the rest of the year. But I do know this, we could use the precipitation NOW, in the form of snow, BRING IT! If the weather patterns stay like they have, look around the next time the wind kicks up. It ain’t good. If what you see does not tell you that, you can monitor drought conditions at the University of Nebraska’s Drought Information Center. Conditions across Nebraska are not good right now,
and projections are not a whole lot better.
Yes, I have some concern about dry weather patterns, wind, and blowing dust. If those things continue, it is not going to be good news for any of our fish & wildlife, soil and water resources or outdoor recreation. I am old enough to have seen first hand evidence of that.
Folks do not like the wind we have had lately, but maybe there should be a lot less happy faces about the warmth and lack of snow either?
Maybe us hard core ice-anglers are not as crazy as some think we are?