Will Lake Michigan Freeze Over?

January 20th, 2009 at 5:09 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Image showing Great Lakes ice coverage in 1979 This is a map of Great Lakes ice cover on Feb. 19, 1979. Satellite pictures can now give us a good idea of how much ice is on Lake Michigan, at least on those rare days when it’s clear. This is the MODIS satellite picture from Monday PM.  Before satellites we can only guess as to whether Lake Michigan was ever solidly frozen over.  Even in 1979, I had pilots tell me that they could always see some open water.  In an average year, the ice on Lake Michigan only reaches a maximum of about 40%.  Much of that is shoreline ice, plus Green Bay, Traverse Bay and the stretch from Beaver Is. to the Mac. Bridge.  1977 and 1994 also saw significant ice on Lake Michigan.  The maximum ice cover in On the other hand, 1998 was just shy of 15%.  Lake Erie is the Great Lake farthest south, yet it’s also the Great Lake that usually gets the highest percentage of ice cover.  That’s because Lakie Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes, with an average depth of 62 feet and a greatest depth of 210 feet.  Lake Michigan averages 279 feet deep, with a maximum depth of 925 feet.  Lake Erie is freezing up now.  When it does freeze up, you turn off the lake-effect snow from that lake, and you’d see a bit more sunshine.  Also, the cold Arctic air would see very little modification crossing a mostly frozen lake.  The cold nights with Arctic air and light winds will help create ice on the lakes.  There is a lot of shore ice now, it’s getting hard to see open water from the Michigan shore.  It’s only Jan. 20, so we may have four weeks to work toward maximum ice, which should bring us to one of the stellar years for Great Lakes ice if this weather pattern continues.

69 Responses to “Will Lake Michigan Freeze Over?”

  1. Todd A (from Holland, but in GR) says:

    All this talk of ice and cold can make a person long for summer…the warmer temps, longer days, driving with the windows down in the car…mmmm sounds good doesn’t it? (Bob P., let me roll with this ok?)

    Here’s to summer! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=icdnKydffZQ

  2. Slim Jim(nw GR) says:

    Todd I will welcome summer with or without a summer time song…28° here and cloudy…

  3. Jevon Murphy (Dalton Township) says:

    I love the cooler weather!

  4. Bob P. :o) (ST.Johns) says:

    Todd A..
    Rockin song, crazy video, ..
    roll on Todd…roll on! LOL

    Im enjoying these balmy temps (25*), a chance to “catch up”!@

  5. Bob P. :o) (ST.Johns) says:

    a quick off subject note:
    When was the last time you have seen 1 to 2 million people together, and not 1 arrest?

    ENJOY the day!

  6. Bob P. :o) (ST.Johns) says:

    Yeah,,, thats a beaut Watchman(saw that earlier)…I will not jump on that bandwagon…But it sure is nice to look at..LOL

  7. Bob P. :o) (ST.Johns) says:

    That is the time period the atmosphere may be changing, so who knows, looks like rain here until after Feb 4th?

  8. Slim Jim(nw GR) says:

    It looks like we will be getting into a somewhat more stormy period coming up as we enter a “battle zone” with warm off to the south and cold off to the north so we clould see some snow, rain, and we will have to watch out for a ice storm..heck we could get all three! Almost summer like (LOL) 31° here.

  9. Todd A, nice song! I have some RATT playing now, soon to be followed by Motley Crue. 80s mood lately.

    Got pretty cold here last night: 0.8F have rebounded nicely now sitting at 27.2F

    Ahh but my lovely room sits at 76.1F LOL….

  10. SHERYLE says:

    My brother’s grew up here in west michigan and now live in Arkansas. They had a discussion about Lake Michigan. Has Lake Michigan ever been totally frozen over? Can’t wait for your answer!!!!

  11. TaraD says:

    When does the next storm hit?? Anytime soon??

  12. Tyler says:

    Will it stay cold throughout February too? If so I think it will freeze over.

  13. up north scott says:

    I’m gonna need an extension for my ice auger. Might even be able to fish Little Traverse Bay again, Have’nt been able to for 3 years

  14. Ben says:

    Yea, I wondered where all those pop-ups were coming from! Maybe I’m going to have to find someplace else to get my news.

  15. Captain John says:

    Well shiver me timbers. I will have to wait longer to get my boat in the water this spring.

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