The unheard-of March warmth in Vermont (among many other areas) is leading to a dramatically fast breakup of ice on local lakes. In truth, I was actually surprised the ice lasted as long as it did, but apparently the ice this year did manage to get rather thick, perhaps due to rain falling on its surface and freezing, and due to the lack of an insulating snow cover. Still, any ice left on lakes is rapidly breaking up.
I recently discovered this large and very neat listing of webcams on Wunderground.com that includes time-lapse videos in many cases. Many of these videos include archives going back several months or more. Quite a few of these webcams include lake views, making it possible to see just when the ice melted off of each lake (I apologize for the overlap of the text with the videos).
Below is a video showing the breakup and movement of ice on Lake Bomoseen on March 17th. The video starts at midnight, so give it a few seconds:
By the next day, the ice is all but gone.
In contrast, the video below shows the last day that ice was visible on the lake - April 15th!
Lake Bomoseen is a popular ice fishing destination, and people were out fishing on the lake every time I drove by when there was enough ice. Unfortunately, the season ended quite early this year.
View Larger Map
There is another webcam on Mallett's Bay (I think), in Colchester. This bay of Lake Champlain freezes much sooner than the main part of the lake (though this year the main part of the lake remained mostly ice free!) On this video you can see the ice starting to form on December 29th:
The ice largely broke up on March 15th after several days of rain:
Two days later, a cold fog hung over the mostly-open water, but broke as the sun rose in the sky. A few bits of ice still floated around.
I spent quite some time watching different weather videos (including some of Irene, which mostly consisted of rain too heavy to see anything through). The lake videos are great, and it would be very neat if there were some river videos as well, as it would be fun to watch the water rise and fall with the weather. Maybe someday I'll set one up.
Meanwhile, for another viewpoint on the beauty and complexity of melting ice, see my friend Neahga's post in his blog Writing for Nature.