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Great Lakes Frozen Over
|Author||Topic: Great Lakes Frozen Over|
posted 02-26-2015 03:47 PM ET (US)
As the winter of 2015 continues with many record setting cold temperatures, the Great Lakes are becoming increasingly frozen over, continuing the trend begun last year, which saw Lake Superior so full of ice it took until June for it to clear.
An article in MLIVE.COM by a meteorologist reports the ice coverage percentages as follows:
Superior = 95.5-percent ice cover
NOAA has images for Superior available at
As a corollary, an ice bridge has again formed in Lake Superior between the mainland and Isle Royale. This is of interest mainly because it permits migration of some animals, notably the wolf. Last year one female wolf walked away from Isle Royale in the winter. The shore did not provide much better habitant. She was shot.
The wolf population has been under study for decades by Professor Rolf Petersen (and others), whom we have meet twice on our two trips to the island when visiting his research station. The wolf population is at a perilously low level at present, and there is debate over whether the wolves will survive if some new DNA doesn't soon enter their bloodlines. The last infusion of DNA was provided by a male wolf who came to the island in the winter of 1997. At this time, almost all the wolves on the island are his descendants.
posted 02-26-2015 05:27 PM ET (US)
It appears that the western shore of Lake Michigan has not yet turned to ice. Here is evidence in a nice photograph. It's from the "in-the-nuclear-winter-all-sunsets-will-be-beautiful" school:
posted 02-27-2015 11:48 AM ET (US)
You can keep abreast of the ice coverage from linked data at
NOAA: Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
posted 02-27-2015 12:12 PM ET (US)
This is a great 60 day time-lapse of the ice build.
posted 02-27-2015 12:18 PM ET (US)
Its been a pretty cold winter here in Central Florida also. I've been working in my unheated garage doing the last of the work on my 15 footer. This morning I varnished the mahogany motor board for the auxillary bracket. It was 48 degrees. I could have heated the varnish, to make it flow better, but it looks OK. BTW the wolves have been gone from this part of the cuntry for several hundred or more years, but hve been replaced by coyutes. There everyware now.
posted 02-27-2015 12:21 PM ET (US)
Here is a link to the website I watch.
Looking out my front window in Northern Michigan I see miles and miles of ice and snow.
Jim, my guess is you are not seeing the ice out your front window.
Jeff's link is the coolest.
posted 02-27-2015 03:05 PM ET (US)
I think he meant COUGARS, not Coyotes.
posted 02-27-2015 06:42 PM ET (US)
Any explanations as to why Lake Ontario is the least covered? It's the smallest, and upstate New York is a pretty cold area.
I wonder if it has to do with current, as the water from all the lakes is moving through Ontario. Here on the Maine Coast, even though salt water has a freezing point only 4 degrees or so below fresh, we don't usually see extensive ice (although there is more this year than typical) due to the tides and current. The water won't stand still long enough to freeze.
posted 02-27-2015 08:40 PM ET (US)
If the cold weather stays through mid-March, there will be ice on the Lakes till July.
posted 02-27-2015 11:49 PM ET (US)
Lake Ontario is deep. Additionally, it benefits from the warming effect of being downwind from the other Great Lakes. These factors, in addition to the water flow coming from the Niagara River which agitates the lakewater to some degree all play a role in the fact that it is slow to freeze over. Of course, the result is that the downwind sections of upstate New York receive some of the heaviest lake effect snow throughout the winter. You will notice that the lake effect prone areas of michigan's upper Peninsula are currently experiencing rather dry conditions despite the cold. That is because lake superior is nearly completely frozen over. Earlier in the season, these brutal temperatures and light winds would have resulted in very heavy like effect snow for Michigan's upper Peninsula.
Regarding David's comment that the lakes may have ice coverage into July: it will be interesting to see. I personally think we may have some ice on Lake superior into early June, but that depends on spring temperatures. (duh).
Cedarville Bay(Lake Huron near the straits of Mackinac) reportedly has 30 inches. I drove my truck on the bay in early February with 18-26 inches of ice.
posted 02-28-2015 07:45 AM ET (US)
We'll see, the next several weeks will determine that.
I think the reason Lake Michigan has so much open water is many of this season's storms have come from the North and had very high winds. When you consider the fetch down the lake one can see that the water has stayed churned up, preventing the middle and southern parts of the Lake from freezing.
posted 02-28-2015 05:51 PM ET (US)
Still 11-14 degrees Celsius here on the West side by the coast. Mountains have no snow at all too warm to even make it, and are ski hills which should be in full effect and peaking right now are needed a simple base. Ghost town around here and flowers are growing, saw a bee out for the first time this year. Back east Toronto Montreal etc same as Great Lakes which is essentially the same area.
Might as well take the cover off the boat but I usually don't dare until about end of April when the temps are about average 10-14.
posted 03-01-2015 09:21 PM ET (US)
If you look at the volume of water that Lake Ontario has, I am sure it at least quadruples what Lake Erie has. Lake Erie is the smallest of the Great Lakes, and is very shallow for it's size.
Lake Ontario is deeper than Lake Huron I believe
posted 03-02-2015 08:51 PM ET (US)
I walked on the ocean here by Mahone Bay, NS yesterday, you could have walked for miles along the coast, I went about 5 or 6 KM's. We rarely have this kind of ice, if the wind comes up, the ice doesn't form. The salt water needs a long period of relatively no or little wind and temps below -10C.
It is like cement to walk on now, a few cracks from tide (our tides are about 6 feet), but it was a nice sunny day at about -1C and little wind. A few warm days and a bunch of wind and it can all be gone.
posted 03-03-2015 12:15 AM ET (US)
Yesterday, on my way home from church with boss, I stopped at the Trenton boat launch on the Delaware River (the one George Washington crossed a few years ago) to get a first hand look at the ice, thinking it won't be like that again for another 30 years. I was standing on the water's(ice's) edge and it looked like I would walk across the river to Pennsylvania, not that I wanted to take that chance! That was impressive. This was part of the tidal sections of the river.
They are calling for more snow later this week. I'm ready for Summer!
posted 03-03-2015 01:49 AM ET (US)
It seems east is a beast for extreme cold weather this year. The West is the opposite warm next week again same as the last but two degrees warmer. Have to think it will change and we will get maybe one quick cold snap. I don't see it unless I pull the cover off early. Drops to zero over night back up to 12 the next day. Hard on the old sinuses but will take it vs the -5 to -20 at any given day. Perfect for outdoor hockey though and I'm always jealous about that.
posted 03-06-2015 10:17 AM ET (US)
We were just up at Northport earlier this week. To look out over Grand Traverse Bay and see it completely frozen over gave us an odd feeling. We could have walked from Northport to Charlevoix, I suspect.
There was a news story last night on the Coast Guard (of the USA) rescue of some fellow from the middle of Lake St. Clair who was out for a walk--he was intending to walk from Lake St. Clair to Toronto on the ice. I think he forgot about Niagara Falls getting in the way. He also seems to have ignored the shipping channel being kept open by ice breakers. See the story at
The rescued man is going to be given a pyschological evaluation.
posted 03-10-2015 05:16 AM ET (US)
In Ottawa the Rideau Canal closed today--for ice skating. The canal had been frozen over and safe for public ice skating for 59-days, the longest duration of official ice skating on the canal in the last 45 years. This is another benchmark of the cold winter of 2015 in the East.
posted 03-11-2015 06:13 AM ET (US)
I'm going to Ottawa Saturday, was hoping to skate on the canal with the grandchildren. Missed it by that much.
posted 03-28-2015 07:56 AM ET (US)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) opened the SOO LOCKS for operation this week at midnight on Wednesday, March 25, 2015. The first vessel to arrive at the locks was the 1,000-foot EDWIN H. GOTT, up bound. Her passage through was delayed by ice jams, according to a report on BOATNERD.COM.
The ice cover on Lake Superior is much reduced compared to this same date last year. MLIVE.COM has a good article with a series of comparative satellite images. See
Water levels are unusually high for this time of year. Lake Michigan-Lake Huron is presently more than 20-inches higher than it was at this time in 2014, and the lake level is forecasted to increase 4-inches more. The USACE has a nice presentation of water levels at
Spring 2015 on the Great Lakes will be characterized by rapidly decreasing ice and higher than average water levels.
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