Lakes Region Awaits “Ice-Out”

This winter has been a long one, and folks everywhere are beginning to get antsy with Spring Fever. Officially and unofficially in New England, spring begins with various dates, such as Vernal Equinox, Red Sox Opening Day, or the Boston Marathon, depending on whom you ask. However, here in the Lakes Region, it’s Lake Winnipesaukee that determines the season, and residents and visitors are placing bets on when “Ice-Out” will usher in spring.

“Ice-Out” on Lake Winnipesaukee occurs when the ice that has covered the lake all winter melts enough to allow the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship to navigate to all of its stops in Alton Bay, Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith, and Wolfeboro. As the traditional end of winter and the start of spring in NH, this event is greatly anticipated by locals and visitors alike. It is also considered the unofficial start to the boating season. Many islanders regain water access to their cottages, and boaters are free to explore the lake.

Ice-Out has been observed and recorded for over 130 years. Records have been kept since 1887 as a way to keep track of when both commercial and passenger transportation lanes on the lake became usable. Originally, it was the people on shore who decided the Ice-Out designation. The setting of the exact date and time is a non-scientific process, and is now determined by an observer in a small plane from Emerson Aviation that flies over the lake several times a day. When the pilot makes the Ice-Out call, it is considered official. Most years, Ice-Out occurs mid- to late-April.

The earliest Ice-Out recorded was last year, when March 16, 2016 got the official Ice-Out call, beating out the previous record of March 23 from 2012. The latest Ice-Out recorded was in 1888 on May 12.

There is an online “Ice-Out Guess Contest” every year at While the contest only accepts guesses during the month of February, folks can view the guesses and keep tabs on the results at this link.

It’s almost time! What’s your guess for Ice-Out on Lake Winnipesaukee?

Carrie Reed
The Mill Falls Blogging Team

photo courtesy of Emerson Aviation


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