New Hampshire Ice Out Breaks Record

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On the heels of Monday’s YWB post about the deteriorating conditions of the ice roads in Canada, comes this: the Lake Winnipesaukee, NH "Ice Out" is a record-breaker, occurring four days prior to the previous record of March 28th, 1921. Last year’s Ice Out was April 12.

What’s going on? I’ll bet you thought New Hampshire had a lot of snow this year. They did. But they had a lot of rain, too. They also didn’t have the sub-zero temperatures that are so common. As has happened so many times over the past several months, we can once again blame/thank El Niño.

No doubt you remember the record-setting snows across the Mid-Atlantic states this past winter. New records for snowfall were common from the Carolinas to the Midwest. Consider the trademark El Niño pattern: Eastward-moving storm systems from the Pacific keeping southern states wetter and cooler than normal. A byproduct of that pattern is an uncommonly frequent and relatively mild wind from the Atlantic across New England. As it turns out, this flow prevented the ice of Lake Winnipesaukee from reaching its usual thickness. (I remember a report of a pickup falling through the ice while driving across the lake in mid-February.)

Ice Out? Ice Out is declared when the MS Mount Washington is able to safely make all ports of call on the lake, unhindered by ice. One of the last (perhaps it is the last?) lake mail routes in the United States, the Mount makes five ports of call delivering mail, passengers and tourists to Meredith Bay, Center Harbor, Wolfeboro, Alton Bay and Weirs Beach. During the summer tourist season, the Mount is available for dinner cruises.

Why Lake Winnipesaukee? Seems an obscure lake that should likely escape the notice of an international weather firm, no? In 1906 my great grandfather built a summer house on the lake and to this day it remains in the family. I’ve spent many a summer (but not too many winters) enjoying Lake Winnipesaukee, in person and from afar.



Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire. No ice in sight. Photo: MeredithbayNH.com



This ImpactWeather forecast image from February 22, 2010 shows the common storm track for 2010: Storms driving mainly east from the Pacific to the Mid-Atlantic. With the counter-clockwise flow around the low pressure area, the common wind for New England this season has been a relatively warm and moist wind from the Atlantic — not the brutally cold Canadian or Arctic wind needed to thicken the ice of regional lakes. Image: ImpactWeather StormWatch.



The original SS Mount Washington in 1920. Yes, she was originally a steamer. Photo: Wiki.



A more recent picture of The MS Mount Washington. Photo: www.winnipesaukee.com

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