Our frigid February has allowed ice cover on the Great Lakes to surge over the 50% mark for the first time this season and for only the 8th time in the last 27 years in early February. After a brief “thaw” in January–the resurgence of arctic air over the last week and a half has helped the total ice cover to reach 54.4% as of Thursday.
Pictured below: Shades of white and gray=ice, Shades of blue=open water
The past two winters were much warmer by comparison and as you’d expect, ice cover was noticeably less.
Early February 2017:
Early February 2016:
Here’s how Lake Michigan stacks up in terms of ice cover. We’re sitting at 38.1% ice coverage as of Friday with ice visible from all of the NW Indiana, SW lower Michigan, and Chicago shorelines for the first time in 4 years.
Here’s what 2017 looked like on this date:
The running average for the maximum, or the highest % of ice per season for the Great Lakes is around 55%…so we’re about there. With a rather cold look to the next few weeks (with a few brief warm ups), we will likely surpass the average and head into territory we haven’t seen in a few years!