Ice Out

There are many rituals to spring in the White Mountains and lakes regions of New Hampshire. Aside from the melting snow, running sap, longer days of sunlight, warming spring zephyrs budding out the limbs and branches of bushes and trees, and the hope of more temperate temperatures there is a long-standing tradition that signals the official, or unofficial, end of winter. A ritual well known in areas of ponds and lakes and bodies of water whose surfaces lay frozen solid all winter long, the custom of predicting ‘ice out’ the legitimate day and time the water becomes passable by watercraft.  

In our area, records for ice out on Squam Lake here in Holderness and Lake Winnipesaukee just down the road, are kept officially and unofficially. Statistics for Lake Winnipesaukee date back to 1887 when the ice out for that year came rather late on May 7, actually one of the latest documented. On the Lake Winnipesaukee website you can check the dates of ice out for every year since 1887. Official ice out is declared when the Mount Washington Cruise Ship is able to safely navigate in open water between Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith and Wolfeboro. Squam Lake stats show ice out for last year on March 23, one day before Lake Winnipesaukee’s noted date. Squam Lake records from Riveredge Marina have been kept back to 1978, which had its latest ice out during that recorded time period of May 3rd.  

Last year’s was the earliest recorded ice out for Lake Winnipesaukee on March 24 at 2pm to be exact. And if memory serves me, it was a glorious and welcome spring. A true prelude to the anticipation of summer. We’ll just have to make our wagers for this year’s event, and hope we guess right!


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