Ice-out Records

By Susan Trask, July, 2015

What a winter it was! Even many cold weather enthusiasts found themselves yearning for spring after the relentless winter of 2015. It certainly was depressing to still see huge piles of snow along the roadsides and under shady spaces in mid-April! This circumstance led to a lot of speculation among lakeside residents about the date of ice-out. Would the heavy snowfall and bone-chilling temperatures make for a later-than-average ice-out? It did seem that it took an awfully long time to see those welcome signs of impending melting: the dark, spongy-looking patches, the puddles of water along the shoreline from melting snow on the bank. Finally, open spaces began to appear, and, as frequently happens, the ice just seemed to disappear! By the way, even though this phenomenon makes it appear that the ice is sinking, it’s not! (Have you ever seen an ice cube at the bottom of a glass of water?!) So this year that glorious ice-out day was April 21. I was astonished when I compared it to previous years: It was actually 2 days earlier than last year! My guess is that the heavy layer of snow insulated the ice and prevented it from forming as much as it would have otherwise. The ice-out phenomenon is a never-ending source of curiosity and speculation, and it’s always interesting to see the dates over time. Here are the records back to 1969, courtesy of Peg Wallingford, Jan Marston, and yours truly.

1969 Apr 21   1981 Mar 26   1993 Apr 21   2005 Apr 12
1970 Apr 27   1982 Apr 25   1994 Apr 19   2006 Apr 2
1971 May 1   1983 Apr 5   1995 Apr 13   2007 Apr 12
1972 Apr 30   1984 Apr 18   1996 Apr ?   2008 Apr 21
1973 Apr 17   1985 Apr 14   1997 Apr 23   2009 Apr 12
1974 Apr 16   1986 Apr 12   1998 Apr 8   2010 Mar 20
1975 Apr 25   1987 Apr 11   1999 Apr 8   2011 Apr 19
1976 Apr 14   1988 Apr 10   2000 Apr 6   2012 Mar 22
1977 Apr 14   1989 Apr 22   2001 Apr 10   2013 Apr 11
1978 Apr 28   1990 Apr 12   2002 Apr 8   2014 Apr 23
1979 Apr 21   1991 Apr 8   2003 Apr 13   2015 Apr 21
1980 Apr 11   1992 Apr 15   2004 Apr 9      

Average ice-out date in those 47 years: April 14

Real Estate on Taylor Pond

By Barbara Mitchell, July 2015 

Taylor Pond, which once was a summer destination for local residents, has come to have more and more year round houses over the years.  People have often asked me what percentage of properties have seasonal  homes and what percentage  are year round.  So I decided to see what I could find out. Although this is not 100% accurate (since some houses deemed “year round” are not really used year round and a few deemed “seasonal” may be lived in year round), of the approximately 228 properties on the water or with deeded access to the water, about 148 are year round, 68 are seasonal and 12 are pieces of land only that might be buildable. That would put the percentage of year round homes on the pond at approximately 64%. In the past 5 years, 19 properties have sold through the Multiple Listing Service with the help of realtors at an average sale price of $332,000 for year round homes, $170,000 for seasonal properties and $130,000 for land only. Three new year round homes have been built, several have been improved or converted to year round, and a handful of others likely have been sold by owners or transferred to family members. The sale price of homes on the pond did dip when the housing bubble burst in 2008, but not as much as prices in the area overall.  Because the supply of properties on the pond is limited and the demand for waterfront property right here in town is always there, properties have continued to sell well.  Because Taylor Pond tends to be somewhat of a “local” waterfront community rather than a “destination” lake, prices tend to remain lower than some of the other (especially larger) waterfront communities, but have still been fairly steady.  “Out-of-staters” that buy on the pond often have a tie to the area through family, Bates College, etc. The more expensive the property, the longer it often takes to sell,  while the smaller seasonal camps often sell quickly with buyers frequently converting them to year round homes. Of course, conversions are subject to numerous complicated zoning ordinances, both state and local.  The most well-known ordinance relating to non-conforming waterfront property expansion is likely to change later this year.  New nonconforming structure expansion provisions have been enacted by the Maine Legislature and are contained within the proposed rulemaking to amend the Department of Environmental Protection Chapter 1000.  Once that has been done, Auburn will most likely adopt the same guidelines shortly after. For years, expansion has been limited to less than 30% of the floor area and volume (whichever was less) over the lifetime of the structure (since the ordinances went into effect in 1989) and height limitations based upon the distance of the structure from the shoreline. Under the new standards, a nonconforming structure would be able to be expanded up to 30% of the footprint (including decks) of the structure or up to a certain established limit (based on setback from the shoreline), whichever is greater, without regard to volume.  Structure height is also limited, much as it was with the previous expansion provisions, except that the new language allows the structure height to be either the established height limit or the height of the existing structure, whichever is greater. These new regulations simplify the calculations and may be less restrictive for some properties and more restrictive for others. Of course there are many other complicated guidelines that must be adhered to when building, rebuilding or expanding on the water, so it is important to check with the city before making any plans or buying or selling property on the pond to be sure you understand what can and cannot be done to the property.  Auburn City Planners are very helpful in assisting residents make the most of their properties within the guidelines to preserve the water quality and, therefore, the value of everyone’s property on the pond. (For more specifics regarding current shoreland zoning ordinances you can go to: One other thing to take into consideration in buying, selling, or expanding a property on the water is flood insurance.  If the structure is in a flood zone as determined by FEMA, a lender will require flood insurance if there will be any type of mortgage or home equity loan on the property.  So, just because the current property owner does not pay for flood insurance, this does not mean that a new owner won’t be required to because previous owner may no longer have a mortgage on the property.

Update on Flood Mitigation Efforts

By Marc Tardiff, July 2015

Past flood events around the Pond, and concern for future recurrences have been the subject of much discussion amongst Taylor Pond residents for many years. The annual TPA newsletter has included articles on the subject in each of its last three editions. This year’s article is meant to serve as an update on current efforts to mitigate the problem. Readers interested in having some background information on the subject can visit the TPA website to peruse the related articles from previous editions of the newsletter. Any meaningful remedial work will be expensive, which means securing funding will be the largest hurdle. The board is involved in ongoing discussions with city staff regarding the issue. The current thought is that we should pursue several funding alternatives which might include a FEMA grant or a Clean Water related fund. Last year, Maine citizens voted in favor of a $50,000,000 ballot question regarding “The General Fund Bond for Clean Water and Safe Communities”. Eligible recipients for this program include 501(c) (3) entities like TPA, and municipalities like Auburn. City staff are presently reviewing the application process. The initial feedback we’ve received from the DEP is that there’s a reasonable chance of being awarded a grant from this fund. In the case of Taylor Pond, the prime consideration for grant approval is the public safety risk associated with the potential for public sewer and private septic systems to comingle with lake water as the result of a flood event. Additional benefits from flood mitigation could be realized from increased property values and reduced flood insurance costs.


By Dana and Kay Little, July 2015

Who has seen the wind? / Neither you nor I: / But when the trees bow down their heads. / The wind is passing by. –Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

The weeping willow outside my window, roots firm in the waterlogged soil, bends and sweeps away from the north wind.  A wind from the south brings warmth. Upturned leaves of red maples announce a coming storm.  As I dig in my garden, a steady breeze keeps the black flies away.  Leaves scuttle across the water and pile up on the beach, giving me mulch for blueberry bushes.   A northeast winter wind brings piling snow.  We can’t see it but we feel its effects.  And living here, there are so many things to learn about the wind.

If you stand on the shore facing into the wind, the water from the pond is pushed towards you and is slightly deeper where you stand. This oscillation in the water level is called a seiche.  And in summer, the wind acts primarily on the surface, causing the seiche to push warm water towards you, giving you a deeper layer of warm water.  If the wind is at your back however, the seiche will take away warm surface water, making your swim colder than usual. Any time the wind blows it creates turbulence in the water.  This creates spirals which rotate in opposite directions.  These spirals travel in parallel lines in the direction of the wind and are called Langmuir rotations.  Where two spirals meet they are up-welling on one side and down-welling on the other side.  Heavy particles collect on the up-welling side; buoyant particles (foam, bits of plants, etc.) on the down-welling side, creating lines on the surface of the water like small streams.  The water between the lines may form smoother areas, creating surface patterns that shift with the wind.

At times, we also see foam on beaches.  It’s typically a light tan, has an earthy or fishy smell, and dissipates quickly when the wind dies.   Decaying plants in the water release natural compounds that function like surfactants in the same manner as soap. Then, when wind agitates the water, we see the formation of large bubbles.  Excess phosphates in the water form runoff or soap can also cause foam which will be white, have a perfume type odor and persist after the wind dies.   On windy days, the foam I find on my beach has always been composed of natural substances and indicates only that we have a biologically productive pond.

One of the most reliable winds on the pond is the sea breeze that comes off the ocean on warm summer days.  Sun heats up land faster than water causing air over the ocean to be cooler than over the land.  In summer, all along the coast of Maine, warmer air over land rises, and cool ocean air rushes in to fill the void—a sea breeze, also called an onshore wind.  On Taylor Pond, starting about 2:00 PM, this sea breeze blows from Crescent Beach on the south end up to Lapham Brook at the north.  On hot summer days a strong sea breeze often appears; then, waters at Crescent Beach can be as smooth as glass for the swimmers, and at the north end you see sailing classes battling foot-high waves.  The same day, the same pond, two entirely different experiences.

Zephyr winds form in the same manner as the sea breeze but are formed right on Taylor Pond. Fetch describes the longest distance wind can travel across the water unimpeded by land.  Taylor Pond is roughly 4000 by 9400 feet measuring east to west and then north to south. When sailing on Taylor Pond, keep away from shore so that fetch is maximized to increase your speed.  Hills and trees obstruct the flow of wind, often cutting sailing speed in half.  Winds on the pond can be fickle and shift 90 to 180 degrees at a moment’s notice, dumping unwary sailors into the water. A sailor reads the wind on the water’s surface.  Waves on the Pond form perpendicular to the direction of the wind.  A set of waves from a new direction mean the wind will change direction even before the waves reach your boat.   Ripples on the surface changing to small wavelets, indicate a stronger wind.

In summer, on a sunny day, when the winds blow mostly from the southeast, the cove where I live on the southwest corner of the Pond is protected from the wind.  The water may be as smooth as glass here, but a hundred yards out there will be visible ripples in the water.  To catch the wind, I have to get my sailboat to those ripples.  And farther out, looking at the waves and knowing the Beaufort Scale, I can estimate the speed of the wind.   The table below describes part of the Beaufort Scale.  When speaking of wind speed over water we usually speak of knots with one knot being equivalent to approximately 1.15 miles per hour.

BeaufortNumber Description Wind Speed (in Knots) Lake Condition Land Condition
0 Calm 0-0.6 Flat Smoke rises vertically
1 Light Air 0.6-3 Ripples without crests Smoke moves in wind direction, leaves do not move
2 Light Breeze 3-6.4 Small wavelets, crests not breaking Wind felt on exposed skin, leaves rustle.
3 Gentle Breeze 6.4-10.6 Large wavelets, crests begin to break, scattered whitecaps Leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended
4 Moderate Breeze 10.6-15.5 Small waves with breaking crests, frequent whitecaps Dust and loose paper raised, small branches begin to move.
5 Fresh Breeze 15.5-21 Moderate waves, many white caps, small amounts of spray Branches of moderate size move, small trees in leaf begin to sway.
6 Strong Breeze 21-26.9 Long waves form, white foam crests frequent, airborne spray present Large branches in motion, whistling heard in overhead wires.

The scale continues on to 12, which indicates hurricane force winds, over 63 knots.  For sailing I am reluctant to go over 5, for canoeing I generally will not leave shore if the number exceeds 2, and for kayaking, 6.  For most people, long rolling waves, white caps and spray in the air signal the need to stay on shore and simply enjoy the wind blowing in their face.

Feel it, smell it, taste it, Wait for it, dread it, fight it. Ride it, embrace it, thank it, Who can ignore the wind on Taylor Pond? Neither you nor I.