After noticing the docks going into the water earlier in the day, Nate Morin of Auburn prepares to launch his fishing boat Monday afternoon in Lake Auburn. Morin says he loves the lake for its fishing and easy access. Sun Journal photo by Andree Kehn

AUBURN — Spring came a month ago, but now it is really here.

Water officials in Lewiston-Auburn called ice-out at Lake Auburn on Monday, installing the public docks off Route 4 in the afternoon and marking the official start to boating season.

Ice-out means the lake is safe for boaters, not necessarily that ice is completely gone. Some patches of ice might remain on the water, but should be settled in coves along the shore.

An April 22 ice-out is average for the lake. In four of the past five years, ice-out has occurred within the same week, ranging from April 19-25.

In 2016, the March 18 ice-out was the earliest on record.

Overall, the trend in recent years has been a later iced-over lake in the winter, and an earlier ice-out in the spring.

Lake Auburn researcher Holly Ewing, a Bates College professor, told the audience at a recent Great Falls Forum the earlier ice-outs pose a complex set of circumstances producing more algae in the lake.

With the lake freezing later, it is adding to the length of time the water is exposed to sunlight.

According to watershed records, Lake Auburn’s ice usually disappears in April, with ice-out occurring in that month 141 times over the past 180 years. The latest the ice has melted was May 14, 1874.

The Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands offers the following definition for ice-out: “When you can navigate unimpeded from one end of the water body to the other. There may still be ice in coves or along the shoreline in some areas, but when a person can traverse the entire water body without being stopped by ice floes, we will consider the ice to be out.”

Ice-out dates at Lake Auburn

2018: April 25

2017: April 19

2016: March 18 (earliest on record)

2015: April 23

2014: April 23

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