Freedom — March 14, 2012 — As of last evening (Tuesday), Ossipee Lake’s level is reported to be 405.6′ and rising at a rate of about 0.2′ per day since last Thursday. The average elevation for this time of year is 405.4. The level has been holding at 404.5′ for most of the winter.
There is now a 6′ – 8′ ring of water between shore and the ice cap. This should be a safety feature to keep people and vehicles off the ice. One woman and two dogs went into the water on Berry Bay last weekend.
We have had a warm winter and moderate snow. My driveway was plowed only four times. We had a couple of almost complete snowmelts. Most of the snow from last week and the build-up of ice on my driveway is gone. The road frost heaves are flattening out.
I was at the dam at noon yesterday. North side gates are open (but no water flow until the level reaches 405′) and two of the five south side gates are open. Looking at the NH Dam Authority charts on the web, there seem to be some changes in reported lake level and water flow that indicate opening and closing of the dam in the last two weeks.
I contacted the Dam Authority and received a response yesterday that indeed several adjustments had been made in south side dam opening/closing to assure the lake will be back to summer level of 407.5 by June 1st. They are using information on snow pack and water content at the Hemenway State Forest in Tamworth and weather predictions to determine when and how much to adjust the dam.
As for ice-out, we had open water on April 20, 2011 and March 25, 2010 (the earliest ever recorded). The ice was still thick enough to run a few small snowmobiles last week.
Conclusion: The State Dam Authority is watching the weather and snow melt. They are adjusting the dam with the intent of bringing the lake up to summer level by the end of May, and also trying to avoid spring floods when nature does something crazy as it does in most years.