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March 23. 2012 12:56PM

Earliest ever Ice-Out on Lake Winnipesaukee

GILFORD - It's official: Ice-Out has been declared on Lake Winnipesaukee.

What's also official is that Friday morning's declaration marks the earliest declared Ice-Out in history. David Emerson of Emerson Aviation in Gilford made the declaration after flying over the lake this morning.

“I didn't think it would occur until the weekend, but the winds whipped up this morning and it cleared up pretty quick,” Emerson said. “There are still some northern coves that have ice in them, but not much.”

Ice-Out is always officially declared by the pilots of Emerson Aviation, who survey the lake at this time of year. It is declared when the lake ice melts enough to allow the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship to navigate between Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith and Wolfeboro.

The Mount Washington's first public cruise is the annual Mother's Day Cruise. Each year the 230-foot boat offers daily scenic cruises as well as evening dinner and dance cruises from the ship's summer home port of Weirs Beach.

The declaration of Ice-Out is not based on any scientific measurement. It's just an “eye-ball” measurement.

To many, the declaration of Ice-Out is the traditional start of the spring season, and it officially allows many island owners to regain water access to their cottages.

Ice-Outs have been observed and recorded since 1887, when Ice-Out was on May 7. The majority of declarations have been made in the month of April.

The earliest recorded dates prior to this year were in 2010, when it was declared on March 24, and in 1921, when Ice-Out was on March 28.

This year's ice has been notably thin, thanks to warmer-than-usual temperatures.

When asked what having an early Ice-Out means, Emerson said, “It means it's time to get ready for summer.”


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