Category Archives: Muskoka Lakes

Lightning Leaps over Lake Muskoka

I’ve been loving hobby photography lately, but I’d never thought to capture a lightning storm before. As a child I remember being told that lightning came up through the ground (which is only partially true), so I was surprised to check my pics and see the horizontal lightning bolts.

Horizontal lightning bolt over Lake Muskoka in Port Carling, ON.

First: a short explanation of how lightning works, then I’ll explain what I learned about my horizontal lightning strikes! 

Lightning is all about the charges – nature always wants to find equilibrium. It’s a natural static discharge where different areas of the atmosphere equalize in charge. Think of it like when you get a static shock from something – it’s the same process taking place.

The most common type of lightning is cloud-to-ground (CG). Generally CG is negatively charged. This channel of negative charge, called a stepped leader, is invisible to the human eye. When it approaches the ground, positively-charged “streamers” reach up to meet it – which explains the “lightning comes from the ground” misconception! These streamers tend to travel up through tall objects like trees, and when they reach the oppositely-charged leader electric current begins flowing – which is why you’re supposed to avoid standing near trees or tall objects during storms.

Cloud-to-ground lightning via lightningmaster.com

Occasionally, an exceptional amount of positive charge builds up in the upper levels of the cloud. This too must be balanced out, and since the lightning has a longer way to travel it is much more powerful. Usually these bolts travel vertically to the ground, but because of the high difference in electrical potential they can also travel horizontally before going to the ground. This means that these positive cloud-to-ground lightning bolts can strike from a blue sky many miles away from the storm – a “bolt from the blue.” Since positive lightning has higher peak currents and longer continuing currents, it is capable of heating surfaces to higher levels… which also makes it the type of lightning most likely to start a forest fire.

Positive cloud-to-ground lightning, via the Washington Post

So anyway, onto our horizontal lightning strikes! The explanation for these bright horizontal strikes is actually pretty simple – differently-charged areas in the atmosphere are simply seeking equilibrium, this time it happens to be two clouds with opposing charges (cloud-to-cloud lightning). As we learned earlier, clouds can be either negatively or positively charged, and nature always seeks equilibrium.

Cloud-to-cloud lightning over Lake Muskoka in Port Carling, ON

Muskoka Watershed Council’s 2021 Natural Edge Program

Looking for an edge to protecting your Muskoka property? We endorse this excellent program being delivered in Muskoka this summer. Please call us if you have any questions or need any help.

2021 Natural Edge Program


MWC has received funding through Watersheds Canada to deliver The Natural Edge Program in the Muskoka area this summer!

The Natural Edge Program guides landowners through every step of the shoreline re-naturalization process, from planning to planting. It empowers property owners to restore their shoreline, protect their water quality, and create habitat for wildlife and pollinators using native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.

Participants in The Natural Edge Program receive:A free site visit to discuss shoreline concerns, provide recommendations, and assess planting conditions;
A personalized planting plan, including photos of selected planting areas and ideal plant species;
Free resources to ensure that the newly planted vegetation thrives in the first few years of establishment and growth; and
Follow-up and support with your new plants.
And for landowners wanting to get a jump on planting their shoreline, there are a limited number of Shoreline Re-naturalization Starter Kits available for a low cost, which include:50 native plants including trees, shrubs, ferns and wildflowers
Coconut fibre mats to deter grass from growing around new plantings
Tree guards for all deciduous trees
Mulch for the wildflowers and ferns
Plant Care Guide with instructions on how to take care of your new plants
Habitat Creation Guide
Wildflower Garden Guide
If you would like to receive a site visit this summer, you can sign up at  https://www.muskokawatershed.org/programs/the-natural-edge/.

Is Slow Cottage Internet About to Become a Thing of the Past?

We all know the frustration. You’re trying to open an email attachment with a photo of your grandkids, look at a real estate listing, get some work done, or even just check the weather… and you’d like to not spend all day doing it! While newer internet technologies like fibre are trying to make that a thing of the past, the coverage is majorly lacking. In many areas the fastest high speed internet is just across the street from near-dial-up speeds, and due to the cost and difficulty of rewiring it doesn’t look like that will be changing any time soon. 

Should we just give up and disconnect? No way! Enter SpaceX, with their new Starlink Satellite Internet service. This satellite service will operate via a satellite constellation of at least 12,000 satellites, with more pending approval. According to SpaceX, Starlink will offer speeds up to a gigabit per second – a far cry from rural cottages which often max out at a speed of up to 5Mpbs (a 995Mbps difference!). During the beta testing phase, customers are expected to experience speed variations from 50 – 150Mbps. Even places that currently have no internet availability at all will finally be brought into the 21st century. 

This is not traditional satellite service – Starlink’s satellites are in low earth orbit, which will not only make the service more reliable, but will also help keep down space debris. Each satellite is fitted with an onboard propulsion system to deorbit at the end of its life, and in the unlikely event that system becomes inoperable the satellite will burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere within 1-5 years. At the higher altitudes used by traditional satellite services, this could take hundreds or even thousands of years. Satellite service also means that unlike fibre, you won’t have to have anything wired to your home to receive the fastest speeds available.

Though it is not fully ready for consumers yet, it is operational! Check out this tweet from Elon Musk, sent in October 2019 via Starlink internet!

He followed up with a second Starlink tweet – “Whoa, it worked!!” According to SpaceX, “Starlink is now delivering initial beta service both domestically and internationally, and will continue expansion to near global coverage of the populated world in 2021.”

While we truly do look forward to being able to work online at less molasses-like speeds, I, for one, will be celebrating laser-fast internet with a good ol’ Netflix marathon in my PJs!

Muskoka Lakes Association January NewsBites

As a cottager, I always found news from Muskoka warming this time of year. So here from the Muskoka Lakes Association is January NewsBites.

Courtesy of the Muskoka Lakes Association

Welcome to January 2015 NewsBites

The MLA reminds everyone to check their cottages and homes regularly during the winter season. The Muskoka area has received well over four feet of snow in the last few weeks and we encourage you to ensure your roofs are shovelled. It’s always good to routinely check your property. If you are unable to make the trip to Muskoka, there are many service Continue reading Muskoka Lakes Association January NewsBites

Muskoka Lakes Association AGM

This Friday, the Muskoka Lakes Association will hold its AGM in Port Carling. Details below and here.

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The 121st Muskoka Lakes Association Annual General Meeting will be held on July 25th at the Port Carling Community Centre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting will begin at 7:00 p.m.

Come and enjoy some refreshments and snacks and have to opportunity to meet other members.  You’ll hear about new MLA programs and updates on activities we’ve undertaken on your behalf.  You’ll also meet incoming President Michael Hart and hear about his ideas for the coming years.

We hope you’ll come out and enjoy an evening with your fellow MLA members.

Please reserve your space by emailing info@mla.on.ca or calling 705-765-5723.

Muskoka Lakes Association – Ministry of Natural Resources – Muskoka Parry Sound Flood Warning update

The Muskoka Lakes Association just sent the following update which includes a detailed report from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
Specific current levels are indicated for the following lakes: Tea Lake, Kawagama Lake, Lake of Bays, Wood Lake, Fox Lake, Mary Lake, Lake Rosseau, Lake Joseph, Lake Muskoka, Go Home Lake, Perry Lake, Doe Lake, Bernard Lake, Cecebe Lake, Ahmic Lake, Forest Lake, Dollars Lake, Crane Lake, Otter Lake and Oastler Lake.
Plus the current status of the river flows for the Big East, North Muskoka, South Muskoka, Oxtongue, Black, North Magnetawan, South Magnetawan, Magnetawan, Moon River, Musquash River and the Shawanaga River.

Here’s the message from the MLA and the linked .pdf below it.

mloa

To: steve@cottageinmuskoka.ca:

As promised, the MLA continues to monitor water levels throughout our catchment area.
The attached freshet update, issued yesterday afternoon, details current watershed conditions throughout Muskoka/Parry Sound.
We encourage you to review the attached document, which provides significant detail, and to take action to protect property if your residence is located in one of the affected areas.

Muskoka Lakes Association

2546_MNR_Update_-_Parry_Sound_Muskoka_-_April_25_2014

Parry Sound, Muskoka: MNR issues a Flood Warning

In case you missed it, the following was Issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at 1:00 p.m.

The Ministry of Natural Resources -Click here to enter text. Parry Sound District is advising residents within flood-prone locations that a Flood Warning is in effect as flooding is imminent. Residents affected by flooding in past years are advised to take immediate action to secure or protect property in advance of river flows and lake levels rising to flood levels.

Those residents that have evacuated their homes in past years due to flooding may wish to make similar preparations at this time as rising water levels will hinder, limit or prevent the ability to evacuate as driveways and roads in lower-lying locations become impassible.

All residents in close proximity to local rivers are advised to keep a close watch on conditions, regularly check for updated messages and exercise caution as river flows and levels rise.

MNR continues to monitor weather conditions and flows and water levels. Further updates to this Flood Warning will be issued as conditions change.

TECHNICAL INFORMATION

Description of Weather System

The current forecast is calling for 45mm or more precipitation beginning the evening of Saturday April 12th through Monday April 14th. The forecast through to next Monday is for daytime high temperatures up to 16 degrees Celsius with near freezing nighttime temperatures.

Description of Current Conditions

The water content within the existing snow pack throughout local watersheds continues to be greater than the normal or historical average for early April. Forecasted temperatures and rainfall will significantly accelerate the melt of the snow pack Saturday through Monday. It is expected that the melting of the snow pack and rainfall amounts will significantly increase the amount of runoff into local rivers and lakes.

Expiry Date: This message will expire Wednesday April 16, 2014; 12:00 pm

Terminology: Notification Levels

WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – FLOOD OUTLOOK: gives early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions

WATERSHED CONDITIONS STATEMENT – WATER SAFETY: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for such users as boaters, anglers and swimmers but flooding is not expected.

FLOOD WATCH: potential for flooding exists within specific watercourses and municipalities

** FLOOD WARNING: flooding is imminent or occurring within specific watercourses and municipalities.

Contact Information

For more information please contact:

First Nation and Municipalities please contact: 705-646-5531

Other Inquiries please contact:  705-646-5509

A close watch on local conditions and weather forecasts from Environment Canada is recommended. Environment Canada bulletins can be found at http://weather.gc.ca/

The Surface Water Monitoring Centre public webpage can be found here: www.ontario.ca/flood

In Muskoka, the environment is the economy. For cottagers, protecting the Muskoka watershed, protects your investment.

This is the most important thing you can do today to help protect the Muskoka watershed which gives us all so much everyday!

The Muskoka Watershed Council has launched an online campaign to bring the 2014 Watershed Report Card to life! This new user-friendly digital report card will provide information on water quality; phosphorus levels in your lake, the likelihood your lake will get algal blooms, the health of your wetlands and tons more. What is not measured cannot be managed. If you love Muskoka and care about protecting its natural beauty please get involved! There are many ways you can help:

  • Leave comments on the campaign page
    • What do you think of this project?
  • Share the link with interested friends and family members
    • Know anyone who loves our scenic environment? Fwd this email!

Please visit the campaign page for further details about this project. It is important to have active participation during the first week of the campaign, so please do what you can to share the care of this special place of rocks, trees, and especially water, that we all love. A small contribution can make a big difference to the protection of our environment. Tell us what you think of the campaign by leaving a comment on the campaign page: www.igg.me/at/StewardshipWorks.

 

We are very fortunate to have such a passionate network of people supporting our mission to champion watershed health in Muskoka and its associated watersheds.

 

Thank you!

Timber harvesting and the health of our lakes: The Calcium Story

©www.cottageinmuskoka.ca
©www.cottageinmuskoka.ca

Mentioned in a number of Muskoka Watershed Council lectures over the past few years, calcium decline in Muskoka Lakes and in particular, the consequences of timber harvesting on lake calcium levels have been hinted at as a potential direct cause of declining health of our lakes in Muskoka. Here’s a past primer news story from the Huntsville Forester (Cottage Country News).
This week, we have an opportunity to discover more.

Dr. Shaun Watmough, an Associate Professor in the Environmental Resource Science Program at Trent University in Peterborough will present.
Here is a synopsis of the lecture:
Decades of acid deposition have depleted soil calcium reserves and, when combined with timber harvesting, predicted losses of calcium from soil are considerable and may ultimately threaten long-term forest health and productivity and lead to negative impacts on lakes.
In this talk, Dr. Watmough will provide an overview of our current understanding of calcium biogeochemistry and describe the reasons for the widespread decline in calcium levels in lakes and the implications of calcium losses on soil fertility and forest health in addition to impacts on lake ecosystems.
With an emphasis on south central Ontario, Dr. Watmough will document a nutrient budget for a selection harvesting regime in central Ontario hardwood forests. This work is then extrapolated to regional harvesting activities and management issues are discussed.

The lecture is this Thursday, October 10, 2013 from 7:00 – 9:00 pm at Nipissing University – Muskoka Campus, 125 Wellington Street, Bracebridge, P1L 1E2. As always, admission is by donation

The link for this lecture and registration is here.

Crossroads and cross-lakes.

After showing cottages by boat (they were mostly island cottages for sale) on Lake Muskoka and Lake Rosseau all day Saturday, we knew that we had planned well. We finished up around 6:00 pm at the top of Lake Rosseau, in Cameron Bay across from the Village of Rosseau, and just in time for dinner.
Fortunately our favourite Muskoka restaurant Crossroads Pub & Grill is just across from the village public docks. Crossroads is one of Muskoka’s best kept secrets – and that’s not just our opinion; check out the opinions of others on TripAdvisor. As you may see, the only criticism is that it takes a while to get your food served. That’s true, but having your meal made on the spot for you, well, it is absolutely worth the wait. Richard and Julie run a fantastic, community engaged restaurant serving a lot of local products. Pure. Simple. Delicious. Check them out in action. I think they didn’t notice their Videographer spelled restaurant wrong at the end:)

So, having arrived at 6:30 for dinner, meeting up with family and friends and taking our own sweet time to order and enjoying our fabulous meals, we weren’t back to the boat until 10:15. Even at the height of summer in Muskoka, it’s getting pretty dark. With a dock waiting on lake Muskoka, we had a long way to go: all of Lake Rosseau, half of Lake Muskoka, Indian River, Mirror Lake and the lock at Port Carling between them – which closes at 8:00 PM.

 

Lake Rosseau at 10:30 at 30 knots.
Lake Rosseau at 10:30 at 30 knots.

It’s a surreal experience, at cruising speed on the black surface of the lake. I know the way, but it is COMPLETELY different in the dark. Nothing is familiar; everything you normally use for guidance is gone. I know that Lake Rosseau  goes from close to 300ft. depths in the north to 100ft. or so in the south toward Port Carling; but it’s the edges I’m more worried about, and the rock shoals here and there. Anything other than that safe depth of water would be an absolute, potentially life threatening, disaster. This becomes little trouble though if you have, like I do an iPad and Navionics. For about 15 bucks I know, within a reasonable margin, where I am, where I am going and where the hazards are. All lit up on the iPad screen – you have to turn the brightness all the way down at night – really excellent!

Tobin Island Lake Rosseau on the Navionics app on my iPad
Tobin Island Lake Rosseau on the Navionics app on my iPad

The main lock at Port Carling closes at 8:00 PM, and we arrived there around 11:00PM. Fortunately there is a self-serve lock available. It’s tricky manoeuvering around to the smaller lock in the dark. There are marker buoys set, but no good lighting – if you have docking lights, put them on to pick up the reflective tape on the buoys. Head for the blue dock edge and tie up.

Tied up at the self-serve lock on the Lake Rosseau side.
Tied up at the self-serve lock on the Lake Rosseau side.

The self-serve part of the Port Carling locks is easy. Head over to the booth – we pay annually (about $85) for lock use, otherwise there is a drop box for your payment on the honour system. Then, you just stick your hand in the hole, move the lever in the direction of whichever gate is open, hold the lever in that position until the gate closes and the lock fills. It is crazy with bugs attracted by the light right over your head – but no biters for whatever reason.

Operating the self-serve lock at Port Carling.
Operating the self-serve lock at Port Carling.

The rest of the trip through Indian River and down into Lake Muskoka was just as beautiful as the Lake Rosseau passage. And again, no problem with the assistance of the iPad and Navionics. We docked about midnight. Nice adventure!