Working on the warmest winter ever
MEREDITH — A heavy dose of rain Wednesday caused lake ice to further thin, ski trails to melt, and dirt roads to get muddy.
Up to an inch of rain fell on much of the Granite State. With normal February temperatures, there would have been a fresh 4 to 5 inches of snow on the ground this morning, according to the National Weather Service.
In fact, if the winter ended today, the weather service station in Concord would have recorded its warmest winter in history, according to NWS meteorologist Tom Hawley.
“But we still have a few weeks of February to go, and we don’t know what March will bring,” Hawley said.
The effects of the warm weather have been evident for weeks on New Hampshire lakes. Lake Winnipesaukee, like Sebago Lake in Maine, has virtually no ice.
The Great Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby has been postponed for two weeks. The Laconia Sled Dog Derby has been canceled, and the New England Pond Hockey Classic, scheduled for this weekend, was moved from Winnipesaukee to smaller Lake Waukewan in Meredith.
Scott Crowder, the founder of the classic, said he would wait until today for a final decision on the event.
“We won’t jeopardize anyone’s safety,” Crowder said. “We’ll see how it looks on Thursday.”
State Fish and Game officials issued warnings Tuesday for ice fishing enthusiasts to “use caution.”
The Alton Bay Seaplane Base and Ice Runway has not opened yet this year, and may not, officials said, because the ice is not thick enough.
On Wednesday morning, one of a handful of bob houses on Alton Bay sank into the lake. No one was inside, Alton Fire Department Deputy Chief Richard Brown said.
At Gunstock Mountain Resort, spokesman Greg Goddard said Wednesday’s rain was “a temporary setback” to what has been a good winter of skiing at the resort, in great part thanks to the colder nights that arrived in January, allowing snowmaking.
“We expect to be back to normal by the weekend, with great skiing,” he said.
The weather service agrees with Goddard. Though more warm weather was expected for today, colder, more seasonable temperatures are expected by the weekend, Hawley said.
“We may even be getting a snowstorm on Monday or Tuesday,” he said.
On Winnipesaukee, Ice-In hasn’t been declared yet, and may not be declared if there are not several days and nights of calm, cold air, said Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation. The only other time that’s happened was in 2001, Emerson said.
“We’ve been losing ice,” he said. “We’ll have to see what happens as we get through February.”