Spring may be here, but lakes in central Maine are still covered in ice.

As of Friday, there were no reports of ice out on central Maine lakes.

Residents in some area towns who take bets on when the final melt will occur are opting for later rather than sooner.

While the winter was particularly cold and snowy, the lakes have had normal or a little less than normal ice depth, leaving it unclear how lake thawing will be affected, experts say.

“Usually the ice will go out sometime around mid-April,” said George Powell, director of boating facilities for the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. But right now, “There’s still a lot of ice on the lakes.”

He said the breakup of the ice causes a stir because it signals it’s the time of year for setting out the more than 500 public boat ramps in the state for lake activities like boating and open-water fishing.

The department has a website where it asks residents to report iceouts in the state and also keeps track of historical ice out data.

Powell said central Maine lakes iceouts may start in a couple weeks, and the more northern lakes in Franklin and Somerset counties might be a week and a half after that.

Last year, China Lake iceout was April 23 and Unity Pond iceout was April 21. More to the north, ice out in Wyman Lake in Bingham was May 4 and on Rangeley Lake it was May 11.

In Wilton, trying to guess when the ice will melt has become an annual tradition.

Bruce Dyke, of the Wilton Fish and Game Association, organizes the annual association fundraiser to guess when the ice will melt off Wilson Lake, with the winner getting $100 cash.

Dyke said the association holds the annual contest to have a little fun with trying to predict the ice melt. This year 126 people took their best guess as to the day and time of ice out, and Dyke said he makes the call himself on when that is.

“There still a lot of ice out there. More than we’ve seen in the last few years,” he said.

State geologist Robert Marvinney said the snow pack has been melting more slowly than in a typical year, though he wasn’t sure what impact that has on the rate of ice melting off the lakes.

“We’re probably two weeks behind where we typically are in terms of loss of snow,” he said.

He said in central Maine, there is about four or five inches of water equivalent left in the snowpack, though in the more western regions there is closer to nine or 10 inches. He said that is about 10 percent more than the amount of snowpack typically left this time of year.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]


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