Ice-out still pending on some Oxford Hills lakes

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NORWAY – Ice-out may have been declared this week on several area lakes, including Lake Auburn, but most lakes in this area are still hanging on to some ice.

“I saw open patches of water but it’s definitely not passable in the middle,” said Kathy Cain, an ice-out observer on Lake Thompson in Oxford.

Cain, who lives in Auburn but is building a home on her lakeside property in Oxford, said a huge “zigzag” of ice in the middle of the lake from the Oxford to Otisfield side Monday has shifted, but there’s still too much to boat from one end to the other or one side to the other.

Lake ice-out dates, when ice leaves a lake, have been recorded for more than two centuries in many of Maine’s lakes, and predicting the date has become a community activity for many residents.

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This year, a record-breaking warm winter – the third warmest in Maine’s history according to the National Weather Service forecast office in Caribou — has produced record-breaking ice-out dates in some lakes. But an overnight turn in the weather may stall ice-out for other area lakes.

“That will throw a wrench in it,” said Cain who expects ice to be out by this weekend.

At Lake Pennesseewassee in Norway, Lake Association President Bruce Cook said Tuesday that despite a lot of open water he does not believe real ice-out has occurred there.

“I do not,” said Cook, a lake resident who also serves as the Norway Board of Selectmen chairman. “Ice-out is suppose to be when you can go from one end of the lake to the other unimpeded. You can’t do that yet.”

Cook said that generally ice drifts from the north part of the lake toward the Lake Store on Route 118 and then turns and goes past the rest area on Route 118. “My house faces the rest area and we’re pretty much ice covered,” he said.

Cook said the deepest part of the lake is near the Lake Store, where the water is 48 feet deep. As the ice breaks up it usually turns toward Cooks house and heads downstream toward town. “We get the tail end of the ice,” he said.

According to records kept on Lake Pennessewassee by Elliot Cummings from 1874 to 1974, ice-out occurred on Lake Pennesseewassee as early as April 6 and as late as May 13 during that time.

In Harrison, Harbormaster Gary Pendexter, said Long Lake and Crystal Lake usually have ice out by April 30, but warm weather has cleared the lakes already.

“The ice is out as far as I’m concerned,” Pendexter   said Tuesday. The town docks have already been placed in the water, he said.

All agree that determining ice-out is a matter of judgment. Some say all the ice must be out of the lake, others’ say it’s OK to have ice around the edges.

“You have to be able to boat from end to end safely with no ice in the way,” Cain said.

ldixon@sunjournal.com

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