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Frozen Great Lakes Could Surpass Last Year’s Totals

NOAA/GLERL

The cold snap in the Great Lakes region continues to ice over the lakes.

In fact, with temperatures 20 degrees below normal, this year’s frozen Great Lakes could surpass last year’s record ice coverage.

“By April or May, usually the ice is gone,” said George Leshkevitch, a scientist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. “Last year, we had ice throughout May, and even lingering into June.”

Record Frozen Potential

Last year, the Great Lakes reached 92.5 percent ice cover. That was the second-highest coverage since ice coverage was first measured and recorded in the 1970s.

The largest coverage was 95 percent in 1979.

As of Feb. 23, total ice coverage of the Great Lakes was 85.6 percent. At this time last year, the lakes only had 61.9 percent ice coverage.

Two things are contributing to the fast icing. First is the record-low temperatures. Second, the late ice from last year could be making conditions favorable for quicker icing on the Great Lakes.

Frozen Summer?

The result of ice remaining on the Great Lakes into late spring could be another cool spring and summer for the area.

“In the Great Lakes region, usually, when you have high ice cover, you’ll have a little bit cooler summer,” said Bryan Peake, a service climatologist at the Midwestern Regional Climate Center.

However, factors beyond frozen lakes determine if the region will have a cool summer. The jet stream from Canada is more responsible for a cooler summer.

In fact, the National Weather Service long-term forecast shows an “increased likelihood” of April, May and June being warmer than normal.

 

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Frozen Great Lakes Could Surpass Last Year’s Totals