I have been watching the Montana weather very closely for a month now. As expected, the ice formed on Canyon Ferry Reservoir in early December, during a very abrupt cold spell. However, unusually, the cold snap didn’t last very long and the entire surface did not freeze at the same time, leaving the northern end of the lake as open water open. (This is actually pretty normal as the north is the deeper end of the lake and the shallow water freezes first).
Since that initial freeze, the temperatures have been around zero (degrees C) during the day and 10 or 15 below at night. Although chilly, not the normal steady minus 20 deg C and not cold enough to build ice quickly. Therefore it appears that the lake has been freezing slowly, but progressively northwards, which is good.
The down side is that there have been intermittent snow showers, that seem to cover the ice as quickly as it forms, with very tempting sheets of black ice open only for a few days. That snow now needs to evaporate or blow off to reveal clean ice. A brief thaw is ideal to melt the surface before it refreezes.
So to summarize, Greenbird is ready & waiting, and as soon as I get the slightest hint that there might be record-breaking ice, I will pack up and make the 18hr journey north from California where I am living right now. I do want to wait till the ice is thick enough to be safe. Greenbird is a heavy machine in ice configuration and sailing on thin early season ice can be an uncertain feeling! After Christmas the entire lake should be frozen and all at a safe thickness. Then it is just a smooth surface that we need!
I am relying on locals for ice reports, which keep coming in on a regular basis – thanks guys, much appreciated.
Stay tuned & have a great Christmas everyone! I am looking forward to some great ice sailing and new records in the New Year!