Ice Out Declared on Lake Winnipesaukee!

After a long and difficult winter, residents can rest assured that summer is on the way with the Wednesday night declaration of “Ice-Out” on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation — the man unofficially charged with monitoring the lake’s ice — said the Big Lake was officially freed from its icy grip as of 8 p.m. on Wednesday when a small, frozen slab gave way off Cow Island.

A large majority of the lake was covered with ice at the beginning of the week but 70-plus-degree heat moved into the region and melted it quickly, leaving only the small hunk near Cow Island blocking the route of the MS Mount Washington.

“When that wind came in [Wednesday afternoon] it just decimated it,” said Emerson.

Emerson smiled from his office on Thursday, saying that now people can enjoy the “rites of spring” after what was a record winter in terms of precipitation and snowfall.

Ice-Out is officially declared when the MS Mount Washington can safely make all of its ports of call on Lake Winnipesaukee — Weirs Beach, Meredith Bay, Alton Bay, Wolfeboro and Center Harbor.

Since records began being kept in 1851, Ice-Out has happened as early as March 29 and as late as May 12, although nearly three-quarters of the time it is declared during the second half of April.

Last year’s Ice-Out happened on April 23 but Emerson noted that — no matter what the winter weather brings — the ice usually goes out between April 20 and 27.

Ice-Out on Lake Winnipesaukee has been declared nine times on April 24 since records began being kept in 1887.

Many lake-watchers, including Emerson, had been predicting that Ice-Out would take place by the end of the coming weekend, but the high temperatures hastened the melting.

Emerson said this year’s interest in Ice-Out appeared to be higher than in recent years and he was asked to make calls to numerous lake organizations to report when the lake officially opened up.

He speculated that people are probably anticipating this year’s Ice-Out because of how long the winter seemed, with feet of snow that made spring seem a long way off until recent weeks.

The following is a snapshot of Ice-Out dates over the past 10 years.

2008 — April 24

2007 — April 23

2006 — April 4

2005 — April 20

2004 — April 20

2003 — April 25

2002 — April 5

2001 — May 2

2000 — April 10

1999 — April 8

1998 — April 6


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