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.
The camera faces
southeast (approximately 145 degrees) from Black Cat Island
on Lake Winnipesaukee, the largest lake in New Hampshire.
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.
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
Winnipesaukee's Microclimate Lake
Winnipesaukee often has different weather from the rest of 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 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.
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
crows, and seagulls are common daytime sights. Sometimes you'll
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.
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.