Tuesday, October 26, 2021

When will Lake George freeze?

By Gordon Woodworth, Chronicle News Editor

The weather is frigid, and if last winter is any guide, Lake George is well on its way to freezing over completely.

“Last year we had a lot of ice cover in early January, but it went out and then came back, and the lake completely froze over on January 23rd,” said Larry Eichler, research scientist with the Darrin Fresh Water Institute (FWI) in Bolton Landing.

“We’re seeing ice form on the fringes, with some pretty big chunks of ice floating loose,” he said. “I checked the water temperature yesterday, and it was 2.5 degrees Centigrade, which is about 37 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s pretty typical for this time of the year.”

Mr. Eichler, who started at FWI in 1979, said, “Some years we have had full ice in December, but that’s unusual.”

That definitely didn’t happen last month, which was much warmer than normal.

Statistics from the National Weather Service in Albany show that the average temperature in Glens Falls in December was 30.3 degrees, 5.3 degrees warmer than average. (Records date back to 1949.)

The coldest December was in 1989, when the average temperature was a bone-chilling 8.4 degrees.

The warmest Decembers were in 2006 and 1953, when the average temperature was 32.6 degrees.

Still, the lake completely froze over in both of those years.

Mr. Eichler keeps a record of when (or if) the lake completely freezes over and when the ice goes out. Last winter, the ice went out on April 15, which is about average.

“Typically, the ice is in usually between January 20 and 25,” he said.

Curt Kingsley took this photo as Paul Leguire broke ice in Green Harbor on Jan. 4 for a fishing trip for lake trout. They caught six keepers, Mr. Kingsley reported.
Curt Kingsley took this photo as Paul Leguire broke ice in Green Harbor on Jan. 4 for a fishing trip for lake trout. They caught six keepers, Mr. Kingsley reported.

According to his records, the lake hasn’t completely iced over 10 times since 1908. Nine of those years (1991, 1995, 1997-99, 2001 and 2002, and 2012 and 2013) have been in the last 25 years.

Last winter, 2014, it froze over Jan. 23.

In 2010, Mr. Eichler said the lake completely iced over on Jan. 28. But the Fund for Lake George list says the lake never froze over.

“It’s a subjective thing,” he said, “but we want to see the whole lake ice-covered.”

Dr. Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute, said her Bolton office looks out over the lake.

“This morning, I saw the ice was forming on the lake, but with the wind and snow, the ice has kind of moved out now,” she said.

“Finkle Brook, which forms the border to our property, has a fair amount of ice on it right now,” she said. “It’s not completely frozen over, but it’s close. With this cold weather, it’s going to be a very interesting week in terms of ice setting on the lake.”

National Weather Service meteorologist Luigi Meccariello said on Tuesday that a “high pressure system over Canada is ushering in cold northwest winds” producing this winter’s coldest air so far.

“The temperatures we’re seeing this week are well below average,” he said.

The Weather Service predicted a low of minus 15 Fahrenheit for Wednesday night-Thursday morning.

Starting Friday, “temperatures will slowly climb back into the upper teens and reach the mid-20s by next week, which for this time of year is pretty typical.”

Mr. Meccariello said, “We do see no apparent warm-up anytime soon, with temperatures at or below normal through the middle of next week.”

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