Ice-out expected on Winnipesaukee Wednesday
Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation, the man who flies over the lake several times a day at this time of year to decide when ice-out occurs, said there is some straggling ice that apparently doesn't want to give up on winter in Center Harbor.
"We still have lots of ice in Center Harbor and a little bit of ice in Meredith Bay. But Alton Bay, Wolfeboro Bay and The Weirs are clear of ice and all open water," he said.
Emerson declares ice-out when he determines that the M.S. Mount Washington can make it to each of its five ports. The boat is docked in Center Harbor each winter.
Ice-out is also considered the unofficial start to the boating season, and to some, it marks the end of winter in New Hampshire.
The earliest ice-out recorded was March 23, 2012, narrowly beating out the previous record of March 24, 2010. The latest it occurred was May 12, 1888.
According to Emerson, because the ice-out designation is based on the judgment of one person, "it is unscientific," he said.
"The call does not mean that the lake is entirely devoid of ice, nor does it mean that the Mount Washington actually does go to each of its ports. It simply means that it is believed that the ship could," Emerson said.
"Right now, the ship couldn't leave Center Harbor if it wanted to," Emerson said. "For some reason, the ice is thin and dark (in Center Harbor) and it hasn't moved."
During a normal ice season, Emerson said, Center Harbor and Meredith Bay would be the first to lose ice.
"Usually it's the Alton Bay end that has ice last, but this year we seem to be having a sea breeze, and for some reason it's the north end of the lake," he said.
But rain and wind forecast for Tuesday night should wipe out the remaining ice sheets and chunks, Emerson said.
Emerson had predicted a record-late ice-out this year because of the lingering winter, but warm weather and rains have made the ice melt more rapidly than expected.
If ice-out occurs Wednesday, it will still be late compared to most years. But April 23 is one of the most common ice-out dates; it occurred on that day in 1891, 1896, 1897, 1912, 1977, 1994, 2007, and 2008.