Man checks the thickness of the ice on Meredith Bay

While “ice-in” was official declared on Lake Winnipesaukee on Sunday, officials strongly recommend using caution because the ice is still thin in many areas. In Meredith Bay on Monday as bubblers kept the water circulating around the town docks, to prevent ice from forming, a resident was spotted testing the ice thickness near shore on the opposite side of the bay.

LACONIA — While “ice-in” has officially been declared on Lake Winnipesaukee, authorities are reminding people who want to venture out to check the ice thickness to ensure they don’t encounter unstable areas that are masked by snow.

Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation based at Laconia Municipal Airport declared that the state’s largest lake had iced over in a Facebook posting Sunday afternoon.

While “The Broads,” the widest expanse of the lake, is no longer open water, Emerson cautioned that in many places the ice remains weak and snow-covered.

“We definitely need more cold weather to allow venturing out for recreational use. People need to always check ice conditions,” he said.

Though all ice is potentially dangerous, the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanover offers a “rule of thumb” on ice thickness:

There should be a minimum of 6 inches of hard ice before individual foot travel, and 8 to 10 inches of hard ice for snow machine or All-Terrain Vehicle travel.

A water body’s size, depth, temperature, currents, springs and wind exposure all affect ice formation, according to the state Fish and Game Department. Snow cover before a prolonged stretch of cold weather can insulate ice from the frigid temperatures and slow its formation, Fish and Game warns.