Well, compared to last season, this season actually feels like winter. The last few weeks saw cold temps and windless nights with little to no snow which did a great deal to take us from waiting for ice to form to riding on ice with a snow surface. Our early access lakes like Chocorua have set up and are seeing lots of activity on the ice. Some of the surfaces are a mix of boney ice and patches of drifted snow. Ice thickness on Lake Chocorua is variable 6-8" with potential thinner areas at the regular inlets, outlets and along the swamp at the SW side of the lake. Be advised some ice fisherman cut a bathtub size hole in the ice near the public parking on the North end. As it skims and gets snow on it it will become a signifigant hazard. The water is about 1.5m deep where this hole is located.
Today we saw a substantial warm up after a night of rain. Temps in the 50's all day took a toll and the ice is now covered with water. This is not really a bad thing as it will smooth out the surfaces and set up again in the next couple days. Hopefully in time for the storm due in Thursday. Smooth ice and predicted 12" of snow is a good recipe for riding. Melvin has set up but we haven't been down to see first hand how thick the ice is. Squam has frozen completely over but the middle is questionable. Wing sailors have already flown the entire length without swimming so that's a good sign. Sunapee has had a nice sheet of black ice form but has not withstood the recent winds well and seems to have been weakend buy last night's rain and warmth.
Meanwhile up north, Umbagog is frozen the entire 9 mile length. We drilled holes from the launch to Sturtevant Cove and never found less than 8". Sled traffic has been on the lower lake. On the upper lake , the plate is not completely solid and has been flexing in the wind, forcing water up onto the surface and causing slush issues. But by and large it is in good shape though comprised of several very large plates. There were also a couple of pressure ridges forming, the largest just north of Metallak Island.
Locally the land based areas have been in rough shape since our last report. They finally got enough snow to ride but they also got a sleet layer "Death Crust" that made riding them problematic bordering dangerous do to the grabby nature of the crust and it's abitily to cut you if you fall down. In this case the warmth knocked the depth down to just a few inches but consolidated the layers and with the up comming cold, should set up a really good base. After this next storm, the land based stuff should be good to go for a while.
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.