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Cruise on the Mount

Visibility Chart & More About This Weather Station
For current visibility, compare image above to latest image
Location number in colored circle - other number is distance in statute miles
1. Five Mile Island 6. Steamboat Island 11. Straightback Mountain
Moultonborough Gilford Alton (elev. 1,905 ft.)
2. Six Mile Island 7. Birch Island 12. Southern Bear Island
Meredith Gilford Meredith
3. Cates Hill 8. Jolly Island 13. Northern Bear Island
East Alton Gilford Meredith
4. Rattlesnake Island "head" 9. Dollar Island 14. Gunstock Ski Area
Alton Meredith Gilford (elev. 2,384 ft.)
5. Rattlesnake Island summit 10. Mount Major 15. Black Cat Shoals
Alton (elev. 800 ft.) Alton (elev. 1,784 ft.) (elev. 504.4 ft.)

Contact Us This site's founder is a call firefighter/EMT - meteorologist. A second person, also a call firefighter - meteorologist, assists as necessary. The site has been a labor of love since 2006, as our time permits. Please consider a donation to help offset the expenses of keeping it running! Look for the Lake Winnipesaukee WeatherCam page on Facebook, and on Twitter we're @LakesNHWeather. For photos, see BlackCatNH on Flickr. Also see BlackCatNH on YouTube. Our email: weather [at] blackcatnh [dot] com.

About This View The camera faces southeast (approximately 145 degrees) from Black Cat Island on Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire.

New England's Climate Lake Winnipesaukee is located at the southern foothills of the White Mountains in New England--an area that has the most unpredictable weather in the world. New England is the only part of the world where three major storm tracks intersect. Air masses from the North Pole and the Gulf of Mexico regularly collide here. The highest of the White Mountains, Mount Washington, is visible from parts of the lake on clear days and is known to scientists and climbers as "Home of the World's Worst Weather." Visit the Mount Washington Observatory page to see what it's like up there right now and to learn more about its weather. This lake gets a lesser but sometimes similar share of it.

New Hampshire's Weather Systems Warm fronts and coastal storms come from the southwest and traverse this view from right to left. Cold fronts and their squalls come from the northwest and overtake this view from behind, then move farther away toward Rochester (DAW). The warm fronts and coastal storms happen most often in winter, causing snow, sleet, and freezing rain. Cold fronts occur year-round, and cause severe thunderstorms in summertime, snow squalls in winter. Winter brings arctic cold fronts that drop temperatures to below-zero (F) and produce strong wind.

Lake Winnipesaukee's Microclimate Lake Winnipesaukee often has different weather from the rest of the area. The air temperature is affected by the water temperature. Extreme differences between the two can produce very dense fog (common in early spring and fall) and arctic sea smoke (late fall.) If the arctic sea smoke happens with strong wind, it may cause an accumulaton of rime ice wherever the wind comes ashore. The lake's wind is stronger because there are several miles of open water in the middle. Mountains border the lake on three sides, and wind increases as it squeezes between them. Wind also increases when it squeezes between islands. On the lake, wind gusts of 50 mph happen regularly, and gusts of hurricane force (74 mph) happen at least once each year. Such gusts are often very localized, affecting one square mile and leaving the next untouched. The lake's northwest-to-southeast orientation makes it a runway for winds coming from either direction, and calm days are rare. When the rest of the area has a calm sunny day, the open lake usually has a southeast breeze from late morning onward. In summer, a 'sundown wind' from the southeast is common around the time of sunset, sometimes reaching 30 mph before calming down in mid-evening. For comparison, the nearest airport weather stations are Laconia (LCI) 8 miles south, and Plymouth (1P1) 17 miles northwest.

Normal Winnipesaukee Weather A typical summer on Lake Winnipesaukee brings humid days around 80 degrees F (26°C), with overnight lows around 65°F (18°C), even when the rest of the area is hotter or cooler. Just a few hundred feet from the water, temperatures on the hottest days can reach 98°F (36°C), and 50°F (10 C) on the coolest nights. Winter is a very different story. While a typical winter day is 28F (-2°C) with nighttime lows around 15°F (-9°C), the coldest winter days top out near zero (-17°C) in daytime and drop back to -20 (-28°C) at night. In spring, New Hampshire's first 70-degree day (21°C) often happens when there are still a few chunks of ice floating around in Lake Winnipesaukee, and the cold water keeps the shorelines several degrees cooler than elsewhere. In the fall, the shores have a very late frost because the lake hasn't cooled off much from summer, and trees at the water's edge don't change color until about a week after the trees away from the water.

Water Temperature The water typically reaches 78°F (25°C) in late July (highest ever: 92°F / 33°C in 1988) and cools into the 60s (18°C) in September. Humidity and sunlight are the greatest drivers of lake water temperature. Humid days make the water warm up much faster than dry days of the same temperature, while cool dry air chills the lake much more quickly than cool damp air. The lake normally freezes in late December and thaws in mid-April. In a normal winter the lake ice will grow up to 24 inches thick. Many factors influence the thickness and duration of the lake ice, and it is no more predictable than each day's weather. In over 100 years of record there have been a few seasons in which the lake did not completely freeze, and just as many seasons when the ice lasted until May.

Lake Level The lake's level varies depending on rainfall, spring snowmelt, and output from a flood control dam in Lakeport where the lake's natural discharge is located. The lake level is measured as the geological elevation of the water surface. Full-lake is 504.32 feet above sea level. It reaches that level in spring, drops slightly during the summer, and the dam's operators perform the annual drawdown in autumn, to prepare the lake for the following spring's rise. The lake does flood sometimes, but it is usually not damaging to the shoreline unless the level climbs above 504.8 feet. Weights are needed to hold docks in place when that happens.

Wildlife Loons, mallard ducks, mergansers, crows, and seagulls are common daytime sights. Sometimes you'll see cormorants. You might catch a glimpse of one of the lake's bald eagles. Beavers swim past the dock in summer, but they don't show up very well in the cam. Sometimes black bears and moose swim from one island to the next but you won't see them unless they swim closeby. Under the water you'll find bass, trout, salmon, whitefish, catfish, sunfish, and plenty of crayfish.

When the lake is frozen you may see a mink or a fox trotting across the ice. This area is also home to bats, owls, wild turkeys, raccoons, bobcats, whitetail deer, coyotes, fishers, and the occasional Canadian lynx--most of which are either very shy or nocturnal. According to the New Hampshire Department of Fish & Game, (wild) wolves are likely in New Hampshire but are not confirmed (as of summer 2010.) Their existence has been confirmed in neighboring states, and a pack has existed in Quebec for many years.

About This Station The Black Cat Island Weather Center was established in 1998 as an island home weather station. There are occasional handwritten weather records from 1998 to 2004. Continuous record-keeping began in fall 2004. This web site began in November 2006 as a scenic webcam on a photography web site. In January 2007 new weather instrumentation allowed automated, computerized weather records to begin. Within weeks, the station's data began to appear along with the webcam. The web site allowed internet viewers to see - for the first time ever - the highly-localized weather of New Hampshire's largest lake.

The camera is a Stardot Netcam MP. The weather station is a Davis Vantage Pro2. It uses Ambient's Virtual Weather Station (VWS) software to send data to the internet. The lake water temperature is measured by a Sensatronics E4 temperature monitor whose data is also added to the page by the Ambient software. The original non-computerized weather instruments are still in use as a backup. TheSilentForest.com is the Lake Winnipesaukee WeatherCam's parent site. Please visit www.thesilentforest.com.


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