Well my guess was way off.
I guessed April 23, 2012 at noon.
My guess for the ice out on Joe's Pond in Vermont had the same ending to probably nearly everyone else's estimate, *sound wrong buzzer*.
But that's hard to guess it right to the minute! Some people do and to them I tip my hat. Here's what I'm talking about.
This is Joe's Pond just west of Danville, VT in the summer. A nice open lake for recreational use is a pleasant site year-round. In my opinion I like this look above, better than this one:
Even though I think this is a beautiful picture......brrrrr! I like the warmer months, and sometimes when I drive by this pond in the winter the setting has that very FLAT gray and a cold, icy look on the surface of the pond.
Anyway, each year there is a contest with guessers from here, from there, from everywhere that try to predict when a block, with a flag attached with it, will fall through the ice. I was reading up on the 2011 contest and apparently the winner won almost $5,000! Man, I should have put in more than one guess.
It's a fun competition that takes some meteorological skill, but also a bit of luck. The ice out competition has been happening since 1986 and I like to look at the data to see trends. Activities like this, and also sugar makers tracking their start and end date to the sugaring season, are great to observe so you can get an example of how the weather is changing over the 'long-term.'
The pictures above and below (as well as the graph and information) are courtesy www.joespond.com and David Covell.
Here's what the pond looked like in the days leading up to the ice out.
This was March 23, 2012. This is a very abnormal sight to see at Joe's Pond. Record-breaking heat for a week straight in March really put a dent in the ice. There was a report in mid-March that the ice was two feet thick, but after the heat a lot of the shoreline melted away.
Look carefully here. The flag where the ice out marker is stationed can be seen on the left-hand-side of this picture. This was actually taken the day of the ice out, early Sunday morning just a few hours prior to the event. A lot of the lake was unfrozen and continuing to melt.
The official time:
April 8, 2012 @ 5:45 p.m.
According to the records from Joe's Pond this is the second-earliest date that the ice out has happened. In the days leading up to the event, here was the play-by-play.
4/8/12, 7:00 pm - The ice is out!!! The time was 5:25 pm on April 8. We will announce a winner soon.
4/6/12, 7:00 pm - The ice continues to look weaker, but it's not out yet.
4/5/12, 7:00 pm - More progress is visible at the ice out flag site. The ice has pulled back further from the shore. As it pulls out further in coming days, open water will get closer to the flag. Open water is making its way to the flag.
4/4/12, 7:00 pm - The ice looks darker tonight maybe because it's saturated with water. In 2010, the ice went out on April 5.
4/2/12, 7:00 am - There was a small amount of snow overnight, and it did freeze here, so the ice out flag this morning looks like it does in late winter, except that the ice is somewhat pulled away from the shore. The water near shore has "cat ice" on it. Even though the ice near the flag looks frozen solidly, it's hard to say what's going on underneath the ice.
4/1/12, 7:00 pm - We're having light snow with temperatures in the low 30's. Ice is still covering most of the pond, with no dramatic changes today. The ice on Lake Winnies, just an hour and a half south and east of here, went out on March 23rd at 9:30 am.
This is the trend line and actual ice out dates since 1986. Notice that from year to year there are huge variations in when this ice out happens. However the trend has been earlier and earlier for the last 25 years. This is consistent with maple sugarers who report sap flowing earlier and ending earlier through the decades, consistent with the contest on Lake Winnipesaukee that has earlier ice out dates, and also consistent with the data records from the National Weather Service in Burlington of steady warming in our area during the last 30 years.
Oh, and about my date for April 23 @ noon. Welllllllllllll, I made that guess way back in October 2011. The National Weather Service in Burlington has a winter contest every year for guesses on how much snow we'll get in Burlington, how cold Saranac Lake, NY will get, when the last snow will hit our area, ice out date on Joe's Pond, etc. I won't name names but there was only ONE guess (out of about 20 local meteorologists) that was earlier than the actual ice out date (guess = April 7 @ 3:44 p.m.) The latest guess was May 7 @ 7 a.m.) So it goes to show that making this prediction is pretty tough, even for those who have a slight 'weather knowledge edge' on others :) Best of luck next year!
-Meteorologist Steve Glazier