All good things eventually come to an end. As it is for the amazing hard ice conditions we've had so far this season. It's been an ice users dream! But now winter is truly upon us and in classic New England winter tradition, we just got snow followed by a soaking rain.
So what does this mean? Well for starters the risk factor has gone up for anyone taking advantage of this season's early lake freeze. Although most of the ice we have now is pretty good, there are hazards. Big temperature swings can have substantial influence on the ice but in addition to actual changes to the ice there is the danger of recently frozen thin ice that is now being obscured by the recent snow/rainfall.
For example, Silver Lake. I think this is the earliest I've ever seen it freeze over and the ice on most of the lake varies from 2.5" to almost 8" or good black ice. However off Hurricane point and near the Northern Islands there are large patches of water (red area) surrounded by large patches of ice (yellow area) that have formed within the last 24 hrs. This ice looks much like the thicker ice and was hard to spot yesterday.
It will be impossible to see now.
The Image below is of the Hurricane Point (left) and the water in front of it. You can see multiple openings. The red highlighted area under the snowpatch is a recently frozen hole. Ice is about 1" thick. Span of this hole is about 25'.
There are also recently frozen drain holes. Though most that I saw were 2" thick at this point.
There's the regular pressure ridge running from the town beach to the East shore. It's about 20' wide at one point where it's collapsed and sunk.
Other lakes have similar issues. This is one of 3 pools that I saw on Squam near Perch Island. If the wind was calm enough and these pools skimmed over, they may support the weight of the recent precipitation. This makes for a substantial hazard to anyone who is unfamiliar with the recent conditions. If you head out, go with someone who know's the area or try to get some good intel.
A collapsed ridge. THe broken plate is submerged and floating detached from the ice that will support you. We can glide over these hazards with ease on the kite but they are still worth considering and staying clear of.
So in light of the recent weather you can't be too safe. Use every precaution.
I will do an update on the conditions hopefully sometime withing the next 24hrs. Stay tuned.
WARNING. No ice is ever 100% safe. We offer condition reports as a service to our students and clients who are familiar with the area and as a source of general condition information to others. These reports are not intended to replace common sense or up to the minute first hand knowledge of a given area. Nor is it a substitute for common sense. When in doubt don't go out.