Published DateGILFORD — Dave Emerson of Emerson Aviation at the Laconia Municipal Airport declared official ice-out on Lake Winnipesaukee at 6:53 a.m. Wednesday.
''The last ice was in Wolfeboro Bay and you could see it break up sort of like ice cubes melting in a drink,' said Emerson, who has been the lake's official ice-out observer for about a dozen years.
He had predicted Tuesday afternoon after flying over the lake that ice-out would take place within the next 12 to 24 hours.
The ice-out came 24 days later than last year, when ice-out was declared on March 23, the earliest date ever. Ice-out records have been kept ever since 1888, when the ice went out on May 12, the latest date ever.
''It's right on schedule this year. It usually goes out the third week of April,'' said Emerson, who said that the lake temperature is about 40 degrees.
It was the seventh time that ice-out has been declared on April 17. Other years in which the ice went out on that date were 1913,1922,1938, 1974, 1976 and 1996.
The most frequent ice-out date is April 20 which has happened 11 times. The ice has gone out nine times on April 24, eight times on April 23 and seven times on April 25.
In the 1970s, the late William Widger of Biospheric Consultants International, which was then based in Meredith, calculated that the average ice out date up until that decade was April 22.
Ice-out traditionally marks the start of the boating season Lake Winnipesaukee.
Ice-out is declared when the M/S Mount Washington cruise ship can reach all of its ports of call on the lake: Wolfeboro, Alton Bay, Weirs Beach, Center Harbor and Meredith.