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Alton Bay ice runway operations canceled for 2023

That was the disappointing news in a Facebook post on January 21 from Alton Bay Seaplane Base and Ice Runway, thought to be the only charted ice strip in the lower 48 states. Alton Bay is in the southeast corner of Lake Winnipesaukee.

At this time of year, officials who monitor the development of ice on Alton Bay hope to see 12 or so inches. They require a minimum of 12 inches to ensure a thick enough layer to allow airplanes to take off and land on the surface.

With only two to three inches of ice as of last week, that isn’t likely to happen, said Jason Levitt, Alton Bay airport manager. “The average temperatures are going to be right at freezing or above, so we don’t see it getting any better than it is now,” Levitt said of the 10-day forecast in a Facebook video.

Complicating this year’s warmer temperatures is the fact that the region has experienced a lot of wind, which keeps the water moving, and the water level this year is higher than normal, said Alton Bay runway manager Paul LaRochelle. That also keeps the water from freezing. “This has happened in the past,” he said. “This isn’t new, we do have variations every year, no two years have been the same in the 13 years that I’ve been involved with the ice runway.”

The ice runway was not opened in 2011, 2016, and 2020.

The video shows there’s still plenty of snow on the ground in Alton Bay, so if you should crave some skiing or other winter sports, nearby Laconia Municipal Airport has a paved-surface runway.

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