By Eric Elliott
After a long warm fall in the Columbia Valley, residents may have noticed that, along with the cool winter air, Lake Windermere has recently frozen over. While thats good news for skaters and skiers looking to get out on the Whiteway in the future, its great news for Gerri Brightwell and Emily Kohorst who are co-winners in the annual Catch the Freeze contest.
Having correctly guessed December 7th as the date that the lake would freeze, Ms. Brightwell and Ms. Kohorst were awarded with I Love My Lake T-shirts along with Gerry Gelati merchandise and frozen dessert gift certificates from the ice cream shop.
Megan Peloso, program co-ordinator for the Lake Windermere Ambassadors, said she collected 20 guesses from people around Invermere on when they thought the lake would freeze over.
She said that people typically guess using numbers such as a loved ones birthday or their favourite number and that this years winners guessed December 7th because it marked one month prior to each of their wedding dates.
Ms. Peloso said the Ambassadors originally started the contest years ago after learning about a similar contest held by the Lake Windermere District Lions Club each spring when the lake melts called the Ice Out.
No one was really doing the freeze so we decided that it was an exciting time especially with the Whiteway and people are getting interested in using the lake in the winter as well, she said.
The freeze date data additionally allows the Lake Windermere Ambassadors to compare the health of their lake against other lakes in the area to draw potential conclusions.
Its sort of just to get a sense of how our overall environment is changing or fluctuating so we know that water is something thats a good indicator of climate because its always moving so the freeze and the melt, we dont expect them to be the same day every year, but its interesting to see when its later or earlier, she said.
One of the other opportunities the contest provides the Lake Windermere Ambassadors and the community at large with is educational, she said.
We usually take this opportunity to remind people that because its a living system, there are places on the surface that arent safe, Ms. Peloso said. We havent mapped those out, but just to remind people to be aware that there are places on the lake surface that are thinner and no frozen ice is safe 100 per cent.
According to their records, Lake Windermere froze over last year on November 25th with this year being the latest recorded freeze since 2012 where the lake froze over on December 10th.
The truth seems to be that it is possible (though perhaps not advisable) for the brave to be paddleboarding at the end of November and skating before mid-December, she said. If the cold decides to come on strongly and stick around, it makes for a great and solid freeze.