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March 12, 2016 - The Contest is Over!

For the second year in a row, the Meltdown contest came to an end in the wee hours of the morning – 12:58AM on March 11th to be exact.  This marks the earliest the block has fallen through the ice (or what was left of it) and beats the previous record of March 19th (set in 2012) by more than a week.  The 5 days before the ice out on Hammond Pond saw warm temperatures (one day that neared 80 degrees) and another day with more than 2″ of rainfall.  It was only a matter of time.

2016 Meltdown as of 03/12/2016

I checked on the block on my way to a meeting on Friday night, March 11th.  The ice was beginning to look dark – a sure sign that it was getting mighty thin.  When I drove by again around 9PM, the ice had melted around the pallet and the flag had fallen towards the gatehouse.  However, since the pallet was still encased in ice, it floated in the water like a bobber.  The worst part was that it didn’t disconnect the clock.  That happened several hours later.

A total of 849 tickets were sold this year with over 500 tickets received the week before the contest ended.

2016 Meltdown as of 03/12/2016

With a pick of 3/12 at 4:12AM, Mary Ann Freund of Goshen was the closest to the actual time the block went through the ice.  However, we all know that this contest uses the ‘Price is Right’ rules which means the winner is the closest to the actual time without going over.  That honor goes to Sue Froehlich of Williamsburg with a winning pick of 3/11 at 5:20PM – almost 8 hours before the actual time the contest ended.  I number every ticket I receive so I can enter them all into an Excel spreadsheet.  Sue’s ticket number was 18 meaning that she was one of the first people that returned their tickets.

Sue’s picks ranged from 3/10 to 3/29 and had no particular significance.  She just filled them out and sent them in with the knowledge that she never wins anything.  I guess she won’t be able to use that excuse going forward.  

A few days after I told Sue that she would be receiving a check for just under $400, I received an e-mail from her saying that half of her winnings would be shared with one of her daughters and a foster child that recently became part of their family.  The other half was going to be donated to the Hampshire Regional High School Music Program.  How great is that?

2016 Meltdown as of 03/11/2016

This years contest had picks that ranged from 3/1 to 5/1.  Chronologically speaking, Sue’s date/time selection was 93rd out of 849 picks.  Said another way, only 11% of picks had gone by.  A full 89% of you thought the block would sink later than it actually did.

As has been the case from previous years, additional donations from many of you enhanced the total amount of the pot.  As a result, the Goshen Cultural Council will receive a check totaling $560 ($386 from the contest proceeds plus $174 is straight donations to the cause).  While this years take was the lowest since the contest started way back in 2005, the amount going to the GCC represents almost 15% of their annual budget – something that I already know they’re very grateful for.

The above is a time lapse video of clouds streaming over Hammond Pond in Goshen one day before the ice finally gave out and ended the 2016 Meltdown contest.

2016 Meltdown as of 03/11/2016

For those of you who participated in this years event, my sincere thanks for you continued support.  For those of you who had their tickets filled out but hadn’t mailed them back, next year will be upon us before you know it.

Until next time and for the sake of the contest, let’s hope the El Nino goes away and winter returns to normal.

March 9, 2016 - The Geese are Back

As if on queue, a very large flock of geese flew over me as I checked out the block this morning at 7AM.  The temperature at the time was 33 degrees fahrenheit.  At its peak today, the temperature at Hammond Pond in Goshen soared all the way up to 72 degrees.

2016 Meltdown as of 03/09/2016

The Albany weather service has been keeping records since 1874.  Today, Albany NY set an all-time record for the date of 81 degrees.  This is also the earliest an 80+ degree temperature was ever recorded in a calendar year.

I can honestly say that I don’t know how thick (or thin) the ice is at this moment because there’s no safe way to make it out onto the ice flow to take a measurement.  As a result, the clock is now attached to the clock in the gatehouse.

As has been done in the past, I will accept tickets received or postmarked at least 24 hours before the contest ends.  Any submissions received within 24 hours of when the block sinks will be returned with my thanks.

With that said, you might want to consider getting your picks in yesterday.

March 7, 2016 - Let's Skip Spring

As the meteorological winter comes to a close, forecasters are suggesting that we’re going to skip Spring and head right into summer.  How many of us can actually say that we remember a winter that had less than 10″ of snow when we’re used to getting closer to 100″ of snow during the season?  Did anyone else notice how the biggest winter stories over the past three months were the references to previous years blizzards, snow storms and snow accumulation totals?  With unseasonable temperatures likely for the next 10 days, could winter truly be over?

2016 Meltdown as of 03/05/2016
2016 Meltdown as of 03/04/2016
2016 Meltdown as of 03/02/2016
2016 Meltdown as of 02/25/2016

As many of you know, Massachusetts held their presidential primary elections last Tuesday.  In my attempt to keep the Meltdown contest relevant, I contacted current and former candidates for their opinions on our event.  Here’s what they had to say:

DONALD TRUMP – “Believe me.  I would build a wall around Hammond Pond to keep in the cold and make the lake people pay for it!”

TED CRUZ – “I was born in Canada so I know a thing or two about ice.  My plan is to carpet bomb it into oblivion.”

MARCO RUBIO – “I’m not a scientist therefore I’m not qualified to make a decision on when the block will fall through the ice.  What I can tell you with certainty is that it wasn’t caused by global warming.”

BERNIE SANDERS – “As you know, I’m trying to create a political revolution much like the Meltdown did when it began 11 years ago.  I feel that it’s time to make the cost of Meltdown tickets free by imposing a tax on Wall Streets speculators.”

HILLARY CLINTON – “As a progressive who likes to get things done, I plan to give a raise to working class families, create good paying jobs and close corporate loopholes and make the fortunate pay their fare share.  What was your question again?”

CHRIS CHRISTIE – “Since Massachusetts didn’t support me, I plan to close the two lanes on the Hammond Pond bridge during rush hour in Goshen and create gridlock the likes that have never been seen in the Hilltowns.”

2016 Meltdown as of 02/28/2016
2016 Meltdown as of 02/25/2016

All kidding aside, the ice on the lake measured 10″ thick on Sunday.  Over the past several weeks, we’ve seen more accumulations in rainwater totals that we have in snowfall reports.  The ice on the shoreline is almost too thin to make it safe to get out to where the block is.  Said another way, if you plan to participate in this years Meltdown contest, please consider getting your tickets in soon.

2016 Meltdown as of 02/25/2016

February 21, 2016 - The 2016 Meltdown Has Begun!

With last weekend’s temperatures dipping into the mid-teens below zero and this weekend’s temperatures soaring into the 50’s, I think it’s time to start thinking about spring.  The 12th annual Meltdown has begun.

2016 Meltdown as of 01/31/2016

As many of you know, the block sits on a wooden pallet that holds a flag.  The flag is simply a marker that shows where the block is in the event it gets completely covered in snow – if and when we get it.  The block is connected to an electric clock by a rope.  The clock is plugged into an outlet in the gatehouse on the dam holding back Hammond Pond.  Once the block falls through the ice or the ice floe moves away from the dam, the tension on the cord will pull the plug out of the wall socket and stop the clock.  It’s that straightforward.

2016 Meltdown as of 02/21/2016

This year’s fundraiser will benefit the Goshen Cultural Council (GCC).  The GCC distributes state funds to projects in the arts, humanities and interpretive sciences.  Over the years, the GCC has be counted on to support programs at Hampshire Regional High School, New Hingham Regional Elementary School, the Chesterfield 4th of July Parade, local libraries, the Goshen Women’s Club and the Goshen Counsel on Aging just to name a few.

2016 Meltdown as of 02/06/2016

The deadline for ticket submissions is April 1st.  Back in 2012, the block fell through the ice on March 19th – almost two weeks before the deadline.  While I can only do so much to regulate the impact climate change is having on our contest, it’s safe to say that the 2016 winter has been anything but normal here on Hammond Pond.  Tickets received after April 1st (unless they were postmarked on or before that date) will be returned.  This date is weather dependent and will be irrelevant if the block falls through the ice before the deadline.  We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

2016 Meltdown as of 02/03/2016

Here are some statistics from the past 11 years of Meltdown events to consider as you make your selections:

     – The most popular dates were 4/15 (612), 4/10 (595), 4/12 (592), 4/13 (554) and 4/1 (544).  Think those are valid this year?

     – The ratio of morning (AM) to afternoon (PM) picks was 25% and 75% respectively.

     – 71% of all guesses were for dates between April 1st and April 21st.

     – Daylight savings time starts on Sunday, March 13th.  Keep that in mind when making your selection.