17 Apr The Lakes Region Eagerly Awaits “Ice-Out”
This winter has been an unusually long one, and folks everywhere are itching with Spring Fever. There are various dates, such as Vernal Equinox, Red Sox Opening Day, or the Boston Marathon, that mark the start of spring for some people, but here in New Hampshire, it’s Lake Winnipesaukee that determines the season, and residents in the Lakes Region are now placing bets on when “Ice-Out” will unofficially start spring here.
“Ice-Out” on Lake Winnipesaukee occurs when the ice that has covered the lake all winter melts enough to allow the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship to navigate to all of its stops in Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith, and Wolfeboro. As the traditional end of winter and the start of spring in NH, this event is greatly anticipated by locals and visitors alike. It is also considered the unofficial start to the boating season. Many Islanders regain water access to their cottages, and boaters are free to explore the lake.
Ice-Out has been observed and recorded for over 130 years. Records have been kept since 1887 as a way to keep track of when both commercial and passenger transportation lanes on the lake became usable. The Ice-Out designation was originally decided by people on shore. The setting of the exact date and time is a non-scientific process, and is now determined by an observer in a small plane from Emerson Aviation that flies over the lake several times a day. When the pilot makes the Ice-Out call, it is considered official. Most years, Ice-Out occurs mid-late April.
The earliest Ice-Out recorded was in 2012, when March 23rd got the official Ice-Out call, narrowly beating out the previous record of March 24th from 2010. The latest Ice-Out recorded was in 1888 on May 12th.
There is an online “Ice-Out Guess Contest” every year at www.winnipesaukee.com. While the contest only accepts guesses during the month of February, folks can view the guesses and keep tabs on the results at this link. An Ice-Out Status video can also be seen here.
It’s getting close this year. What’s your guess for Ice-Out on Lake Winnipesaukee?
The Mill Falls Blogging Team
Photo courtesy of Emerson Aviation