Ice has melted from southern Lake Winnipeg earlier than any time in memory following months of unusual warmth in central Canada, the CBC News website said on Monday.
Robert Kristjanson, member of a Manitoba family that has been fishing commercially for more than 120 years said, "in my time I have never seen it as early."
"In 1951 [the ice] went out very early but not this early," the 78-year-old Kristjanson added.
Normally, ice fishing season on Lake Winnipeg's southern basin would last until mid-April.
Kristjanson expressed worry that early ice out would allow commercial fishing to begin early, before fish have a chance to spawn. Usually, commercial fishing would not begin until mid-May.
Winter was abnormally mild in Winnipeg and southern Manitoba, albeit plenty cold enough for ice to form on Manitoba's "great lake."
Winnipeg climate data accessed by AccuWeather.com showed that the winter months of December through February had an average temperature of -9.6 degrees C (14.7 F), or 6.4 degrees C (11.5 F) above normal.
Record warmth followed in March, a month that saw Winnipeg set both its highest maximum temperature (23.9 degrees C on the 19th), and its highest monthly average reading.
Lake Winnipeg is about as big as Lake Erie, and its southern basin takes in a rather small fraction of the lake.
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