Ice-Outs Over the Years

When you think about ice, it consists of two common atoms: hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen (H2) is the most abundant element in the universe, and it is also the fuel that powers all stars, including our own Sun. In massive, continous thermonuclear reactions, the hydrogen is converted to helium plus a release of radiation. When the radiation reaches the Earth, it keeps everything warm and comfy (at least in the summertime). Oxygen (O2) is the gas that makes up 20% of our atmosphere. Without it no animal could exist.

When God combined these two gases, He created water – and lots of it. (Visit your nearest ocean to see for yourself.) The unique feature of water is that when it cools to its freezing point (32oF/0oC), the hydrogen bonds start to push the water molecules apart slightly, forming hexagonal-shaped crystals (think of snow flakes) with space in between. Solid water (AKA ice) is about 9% less dense than liquid water, so, voila, it floats.

Thank God for that unique bit of chemistry. It allows us to put our bob houses on the big lake and, in the Spring, watch the ice slowly melt.

Mount Washington cruise shipIce-Out on Lake Winnipesaukee is the date when the lake ice melts enough so that the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship can navigate from Alton Bay to Center Harbor, Weirs Beach, Meredith and Wolfeboro.

Ice-Out is considered the traditional start of the Spring season and island residents can once again reach their cottages to set them up for the summer. Records of this date go back over 130 years to 1887. The Ice-Out date and time is non-scientific and is now determined by an airplane observer who files over the lake several times a day. The pilot essentially makes the official call.

CAUTION
No matter what the official date is, the water is still freezing cold, so utmost boating safety is advised.

ice out datesClick on the image to the left to view a graph that shows the historical trend for ice-out dates.
 The odd aspect of the graph is that the dates keep alternating between late March/early April at the earliest and mid-April to early May at the latest – not the kind of trend you can attribute to global warming. In addition, the most frequent date is April 20th which appears 10 times. Recent late March dates (2010, 2012, and 2016) may be outliers
compared to other recent dates that fall between early and mid April. Time will tell.

Data for the graph comes from the following tables.

Year Date
1887 May 7
1888 May 12
1889 April 14
1890 April 24
1891 April 23
1892 April 11
1893 May 10
1894 April 20
1895 April 26
1896 April 23
1897 April 23
1898 April 14
1899 May 2
1900 April 26
1901 April 20
1902 April 4
1903 April 2
1904 April 29
1905 April 24
1906 April 26
1907 April 29
1908 April 21
1909 April 19
1910 April 6
1911 May 2
1912 April 23
1913 April 17
1914 April 15
1915 April 24
1916 April 16
1917 April 28
1918 April 24
1919 April 24
1920 April 24
Year Date
1921 March 28
1922 April 17
1923 April 24
1924 April 18
1925 April 10
1926 May 2
1927 April 13
1928 April 19
1929 April 18
1930 April 7
1931 April 11
1932 April 20
1933 April 25
1934 April 21
1935 April 21
1936 April 8
1937 April 25
1938 April 17
1939 May 4
1940 May 4
1941 April 16
1942 April 18
1943 April 30
1944 May 3
1945 April 1
1946 March 30
1947 April 24
1948 April 10
1949 April 8
1950 April 20
Year Date
1951 April 14
1952 April 20
1953 April 3
1954 April 16
1955 April 19
1956 May 5
1957 April 3
1958 April 13
1959 April 26
1960 April 19
1961 April 27
1962 April 24
1963 April 20
1964 April 28
1965 April 22
1966 April 20
1967 April 20
1968 April 15
1969 April 25
1970 April 28
1971 May 6
1972 May 2
1973 April 16
1974 April 16
1975 April 25
1976 April 16
1977 April 23
1978 April 27
1979 April 26
1980 April 17
Year Date
1981 April 5
1982 April 29
1983 April 10
1984 April 20
1985 April 14
1986 April 16
1987 April 12
1988 April 16
1989 April 25
1990 April 22
1991 April 8
1992 April 21
1993 April 22
1994 April 23
1995 April 15
1996 April 17
1997 April 24
1998 April 7
1999 April 8
2000 April 10
2001 May 2
2002 April 5
2003 April 25
2004 April 20
2005 April 20
2006 April 3
2007 April 23
2008 April 23
2009 April 12
2010 March 24
Year Date
2011 April 19
2012 March 23
2013 April 17
2014 April 23
2015 April 24
2016 March 18
2017 April 17

Dates are derived from https://www.winnipesaukee.com/index.php?pageid=iceout


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