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April 17. 2014 1:14PM

Ice-out on WInnipesaukee expected by late next week

GILFORD – The man who determines when Ice-out occurs on Lake Winnipesaukee has revised his earlier prediction: Ice-out will be late this year, but it won't break any records.

Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation predicted in late March that the long, snowy winter would delay ice-out into May and could set a record for a late ice-out.

But Emerson said Thursday the recent warm weather and heavy rain have caused the ice to melt at a fast pace.

“The two storms really did a number on the ice,” Emerson said, explaining that the ice over The Broads section of the lake near Gilford is no longer ice covered.

“It could come as early as next weekend (April 27-28),” he said.

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 ice begins to melt.

The record-late ice-out date is May 12, 1888. 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. Last year it went out on April 17.

Emerson has been tasked with calling ice-out for many years, inheriting the responsibility from his father, the late Alan Emerson. He knows it's coming soon when Lilly Pond near the end of the airport loses its ice.

“Every year, ice-out appears to happen seven to 10 days after the ice on Lilly Pond disappears,” he said.

The pond lost its ice on Wednesday, he said.


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