We all have different metrics for the start of spring. The equinox, the Red Sox home opener, the first crocus in the yard. But in New Hampshire, a traditional measuring stick is the demise of the final ice cubes in mighty Lake Winnipesaukee. By that metric, spring began on Thursday, April 26th!
Emerson Aviation out of Guilford, NH often provides aerial updates of the conditions on their Facebook page and provided evidence of the official ice-out status on Thursday evening. The beautiful lake will keep liquid status until next winter and the boats will be back before you know it. The ice-out date of April 26th is one week later than the 131 year average.
Yes that’s correct – such records have been kept a long time! In fact there is a whole community providing updates and dutifully keeping tabs on this annual rite of passage. This year was an interesting case because so much of the ice melted away in February during an extremely warm (for winter) stretch. But March and early April were so snowy and cold that ice regained control of the lake and held strong until a later than average melting.
There is a lot of variability year to year for the final date, and recent years have seen some extremes. Just two years ago we had the earliest ice-out ever recorded (March 18th), and the 3 earliest ice-outs on record have all been in the last 8 years. On the flip side, this year, 2015, and 2014 all featured later than average dates.
More than just novelty, it’s an important part of the season where locals get water access back and can head to island cottages. Might not be time for a swim yet, though. The current water temperature at Weirs Beach is a balmy 43F.