Each year, New Hampshire residents look forward to “ice out” – the moment when the ice on Lake Winnipesaukee has melted enough for a ship to visit five ports of call.

The event signals the unofficial start of spring . . . and this year, it was called on March 18th – the earliest date ever.

Lake Winnipesaukee
View of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire.

Although not a scientific measurement, “ice-out” has been tracked on Lake Winnipesaukee for more than a century. Since 1979, the job has been in the hands of pilot David Emerson, who runs a local flight school.

Emerson: “We’re up on a regular basis anyway, so we have a birds-eye view of what the ice is doing.”

This year’s record-setting ice-out attracted attention as a potential sign of climate change. But Emerson says ice-in dates – when the lake is completely frozen over – are changing even more dramatically.

Emerson: “I’ve been seeing later and later ice-ins.”

This year’s came in February, and only three days before Emerson started looking for signs of “ice out.”

It’s hard to say if global warming, high winds, or less snow cover is to blame for the lack of ice, but the trend is no surprise. The region has experienced fewer freezing days over the past 45 years.

A fun New England tradition may become a somber sign of #climatechange. Click To Tweet

So as the climate continues to warm, a fun New England tradition may become a somber sign of change.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo source: Wikimedia (credit: Ken Gallager).

More Resources
Lake Winnipesaukee Ice-Out
Emerson Aviation
Cold Days, Calm Winds Finally Work Their Magic on the Big Lake for ‘Ice-In,’
Lake Winnipesaukee Annual Ice-Out Dates and Graph (1887-2016)

Topics: Snow & Ice