By PAULA TRACY, InDepthNH.org
GILFORD – Lake Winnipesaukee is nowhere near frozen and that may impact some planned activities and winter sports on the big lake in the coming weeks.
Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation, who flies over Lake Winnipesaukee and annually declares ice-out in spring, said on Monday that he never remembers a winter when it has been so late having ice-in.
He said he wonders if a full ice closure will even happen this winter.
“We have another three weeks before I write off an ‘ice in,'” he said.
Asked when the last time the Big Lake was so open at the end of January, Emerson said, “I can honestly say, never. Usually, the whole lake is frozen for some years just the Broads are stubborn to catch.”
Still, this year, only a few bays and shallow areas have seen some ice and some have lost even that.
Stephen Baron, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Gray, Maine, which forecasts for the entire state, said it is looking like January will be the second or third-warmest winter on record for Concord, at 31.4 degrees average.
The warmest winter ever was in 1932, he said, at 31.9 degrees.
Baron said the NWS does not keep ice-in information but does keep Emerson’s ice-out statistics on record.
He said while there may be a bit of cold in the upcoming forecast for the late week and weekend, it appears we are entering an above-normal weather pattern where it will be warmer than average.
Emerson said the conditions do not look positive for freezing over.
“We need below zero at night and we just haven’t had that yet. Maybe this weekend but the wind is supposed to blow and that will make it even harder to freeze,” said Emerson.
In spite of the open water, the 44th Great Meredith Bay Fishing Derby is still on for Feb. 11-12 https://icefishingnh.com/ and this weekend’s 14th annual New England Pond Hockey Classic, which usually is held on Meredith Bay, is moved to Lake Waukewan https://www.pondhockeyclassic.com/phcnews/janw19268ch3lrp9c7pyv7qh97udd6.
Lake Waukewan is a smaller body of water that has been frozen since just after Christmas. The event, which had to be canceled last winter at the last minute, was able to be held on Waukewan, near the town beach, during the 2012 and 2016 winters.
And the Laconia Sled Dog Derby, Feb. 17-19 is still on https://www.lrsdc.org/ and part of the traditional course for the dogs is over Lake Opechee.
There is currently a sturdy snow cover in the fields and forests of the Lakes Region to support some snowmobiling and cross-country skiing but ice fishing has been limited to small and shallow bodies of water.
Emerson, of Emerson Aviation which has a charter service out of Laconia Airport, sent InDepthNH.org several photographs he took two weeks ago “but nothing has changed. If anything, it has receded some.”
Ice-out is unscientific because it is done by only one person, but has been recorded for decades. It is declared when the MS Mount Washington cruise boat can reach all of its normal ports on the 72 square-mile lake without being impeded by ice.
That is Center Harbor, Meredith, Weirs Beach, Wolfeboro, and Alton Bay.
The earliest ice-out ever recorded was March 18, 2016.