Solid evidence points to late, record ice-out on Lake Winnipesaukee

Union Leader Correspondent
March 25. 2014 10:09PM
MEREDITH - The long, cold winter created a 3-foot ice pack on Lake Winnipesaukee and the ice isn't going away anytime soon.

So, the man who decides when ice-out occurs each year, Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation, thinks ice-out this year may set records.'We're on a pace for a record late ice-out this year,' Emerson said. He said the ice is so thick now that it could surpass the record ice-out date of May 12, 1888.

'I'm thinking it's going to happen in May, anyway,' he said. 'Everything is solid, there was some open ice in February but that's frozen over since. It's unusual to be at the end of March and have no open ice.'Ice-out on Lake Winnipesaukee is called when enough ice melts to allow the M.S. Mount Washington cruise ship to navigate to Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith and Wolfeboro.

Ice-out marks the start of the spring season on the lake. That's when many islanders regain water access to their cottages. Emerson keeps tabs on the approach to ice-out by flying a small plane over the lake once the melt begins in earnest.Two years ago today, ice-out had already been called. Emerson said 2012 marked the earliest ice-out since records have been kept, happening on March 23. In 2010, it happened on March 24.

The last time ice-out happened in May was in 2001, when it was declared on May 2.Emerson said he expects it will be later than that this year.'This cold we've seen this winter hasn't let up, there have been no breaks in the ice anytime in the past few weeks,' he said. 'Unless we have a major warm-up or a heat wave, it looks like May. There's an awful lot of ice out there.'

Meanwhile, Fish and Game officials are reminding all bob house owners to remove them no later than the end of the day Tuesday, April 1.

The law is designed to ensure that bob houses and their contents do not fall through the ice and become hazards to boaters, or get left behind on shore, said Lt. Heidi Murphy of the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department's Law Enforcement Division.

Failure to remove a bob house by the deadline can result in a fine and a one-year loss of the owner's fishing license. If Fish and Game officers cannot identify the bob house owner, Fish and Game has the authority to seize any bob house and its contents not removed by the deadline.Murphy said bob house owners are not allowed to make a bonfire with their structures. Burning a bob house on the ice is illegal and will result in a fine and one year loss of the owner's fishing

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