Looking out over iced-in Lake Winnipesaukee and snow-capped Mount Washington from the top of Gunstock Mountain on Monday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

GILFORD — David Emerson, president of Emerson Aviation, announced "ice-in" on Lake Winnipesaukee on Monday morning.

This year's declaration comes 10 days later than last year's ice-in date of Jan. 4, which was the earliest on record.

Emerson, president of Emerson Aviation, closely watches the ice conditions to announce ice-in – which normally occurs between the third week of January and the first week of February – and ice-out, which is defined as when the MS Mount Washington cruise ship is able to make all points of call — Weirs Beach, Meredith, Center Harbor, Alton Bay, and Wolfeboro. That date usually falls during the third week of April.

As temperatures head south of zero, Emerson sometimes heads out on an hourly basis to gauge the change in ice coverage. On Monday afternoon, he sent out the message: "The big lake has completely froze over this morning."

Ice-in does not mean that it is safe to venture out on the ice. Some areas remain very thin, especially the areas that just froze.

The last areas to freeze this year were The Broads and an area between Long Island and Sandy, over to Welch, Emerson said.

“One place may be 5 inches thick and other places may be just an inch thick. The lake is treacherous from that standpoint.”

The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department advises that it requires 4 to 6 inches of solid bluish-black ice to support a few well-dispersed people, and 8 to 10 inches of that type of ice to support activities involving off-highway recreational vehicles.

The department recommends that people make test holes in the ice to assess conditions and to be mindful that all ice is potentially dangerous, particularly areas with current, like inlets, outlets and springs.

– Thomas P. Caldwell

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