Great Lakes Ice

February 9th, 2011 at 2:22 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

<–Great lakes ice cover and ice cover on Lake Erie (now at about 87%) and maximum ice cover on the Great Lakes in 1979.  Images from GLERL – click to enlarge.  Ice is accumulating on the Great Lakes.  Lake Erie is the southernmost Great Lake, but usually gets the highest percentage of surface ice cover.  That’s because Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes (avg. depth 62 ft.).  Of course with 87% ice cover, it kind of puts a damper on any lake – effect snow.  On Lake Michigan (avg. depth 279 ft.), much of Green Bay is frozen and there is ice from Beaver Is. to the shore.  Ice is accumulating around the edges of the lake.  Regarding the last picture, pilots told me there was always a little open water out over Lake Michigan.  Also, the winters from 1976-79 were very cold and snowy.  Climate maps that start in 1979 (like ice cover on the Great Lakes) would be starting at a low (cold) point, not an average point.  By picking the starting and stopping points on a graph of something like temperature or ice cover, you can make the graph give an intended impression (see this blog entry:  .  We’re going to be nearly seven degrees colder than average for Feb. 1-11.  We’ll go warmer than average for next week, but that’s a lot to make up.  We’re already a little below normal for Dec. and Jan.  Texas shivers again todayfour foot snow drifts in the PanhandleUp to 14″ of snow in Kansas.  I was checking season snowfall at ski areas out west, and they are remarkably good and similar:  366″ Kirkwood (CA), 356″ Timberline (OR), 346″ Snowbird (UT), 336″ Alyeska (AK), 336 Mammoth Mt. (CA), 332″ Alta (UT), 330″ Whistler-Blackcomb (BC – where the Olympics were held), 329″ Breckenridge (CO) 289″ Loveland, (CO).

27 Responses to “Great Lakes Ice”

  1. DF (SE Mich) says:

    So, Lake Erie is essentially frozen over.

    A throw back inside joke… =)

    1. Mike in Hamilton says:

      That helps keep the fires down…

  2. ryan says:

    like the new look of the homepage bill

  3. slim Jim nw GR (2) says:

    While this winter has seen a long stretch of below freezing temps back in January and February of 1979 it was much colder! But even then with how long its been cold this winter I was kind of surprised to see how much open water there still is on Lakes Superior and Michigan. If the warm up comes as expected the lakes should reach there ice peak late this week.
    On a what I thought was a funny side note and this is taken from this AM’s NWS discussion (if you read it literally the end of weather will come after Friday LOL)


    Well I thought it was funny when I read it

    1. Lisa (Caledonia) says:

      No more significant weather after Friday! I guess I’d better take that SkyWarn training off my calendar then… ;) :D

  4. dano (Norton Shores) says:

    There is only about 300 feet of ice off the shore right now. (In this area) Big waves today. The stiff east winds last week moved a lot of the ice off shore.
    I would hate to even think about what it would like to be in a boat today.

  5. Brad says:

    Interesting. Contrary to what the alarmists would have us believe, ice cover on the Great Lakes has actually increased since summer 2010.

    1. Steve says:

      Good point. We have seen substantial snow pack increases across North America as well! All of this occurred in a short time period (just a few months). Maybe global cooling is finally establishing itself after that extremely quiet solar minimum. Is this the Winter without a Summer?

    2. slim Jim nw GR (2) says:

      I think the ice cover in the Great Lakes increase ever winter from the proceeding summer. Its not like the Great Lakes are ice free every winter.

    3. KEVIN says:

      Keep pushing that alarmist label. Personally, I think it should be logical, sensible, educator, or hero. But stick with what Rush tells you to say.
      The question of global warming stopping is often raised in the light of a recent weather event – a big snowfall, cold spell, or drought breaking rain. Global warming is entirely compatible with these events; after all they are just weather. For climate change, it is the long term trends that are important; measured over decades or more, and those long term trends show that the globe is still, unfortunately, warming. Sorry Pal, but one or two cold months prove nada.

      1. Brad says:

        Hi Kevin- I’m just joshing some of our more illustrious “deniers”…

        1. Steve says:

          Me too :)

          Seriously, a few months of snow and cold aren’t going to change a thing when it comes to climate science. A Winter without a Summer — LOL.

      2. Bill Steffen says:

        “logical, sensible, educator, hero”…ah..the ego. If only we could be as intelligent and all-knowing as you KEVIN. Global warming is compatible with everything, because it has to be! It can never die, so we find a way to cram the square box in the round hole. If it’s warmer…that’s global warming…if it’s colder…that’s global warming…if the Packers win, that’s global warming and if the Steelers win…that’s global warming. Heads I win, tails you lose. Sorry, I’m not comin’ to Barnum’s Circus. The globe is cooling at this moment and the factors that overrule CO2 (La Nina and cold PDO) will see that overall global temperatures stay close to average the rest of this year.

      3. Ned S. (Tallmadge Twp.) says:

        Why don’t you give it a rest? I’m darn sick and tired of you liberals constantly trying to portray conservatives as a bunch of neantherthals. I rarely listen to Limbaugh or Hannity. I dont have time for that; I work for a living. So don’t give me that crap about following Rush’s marching orders.

      4. dano (Norton Shores) says:

        You always say it’s a Republican v Democrat, or liberal v conservative. I know liberals who think global warming is a joke. I know Republicans who are worried about it. I will say most conservatives don’t agree with GW whereas most liberals probably do.

        Most American think job creation right now is the most important issue and not spending billions on theories about GW.

        For me personally I just am not sold on “Global Warming”, “Climate Change” or whatever the newest label is today. You figure anyone who doesn’t agree with you makes them an idiot. Well for me to have Al Gore as a front man for Global Warming is just not logical. He is a politician. Who is going to believe a politician? I take any politician with a grain of salt, no matter what party they are affiliated with. Politicians like to hear themselves talk. Sorry, I just cannot take Gore seriously.

        I really think you need to take a look at
        These people on this site are scientists and meteorologists. I think they know what they are talking about. I suppose they are just a bunch of right wing idiots too.

  6. GunLakeDeb says:

    I’m ready for next week’s “warmer than average” – although with several dogs and a small yard – I’m dreading the horrors a good thaw will reveal – ugh.

  7. Steve says:

    Huge warm up coming according to the latest GFS. And the Euro is even warmer!

  8. Randy (Rockford says:

    I am not ready for above average temps. This is winter and we need cold and snow. Warmer temps sound absolutely horrible to me. I hope that the above average temps don’t last for more than a few days. We need a cold and stormy pattern to develop soon!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. kevin. w says:

      You must be smokin’ some new stuff out there to want more cold and stormy weather. You can have all the snow in my yard, come and get it.

      1. Randy (Rockford says:

        Guess what it is winter and it should be cold and snowy! This time of year I do not like the temp to get above 25 degrees!!!!

  9. Randy (Rockford says:

    The HPC 6 to 14 day outlook has us in normal temps and above average precip. That would mean above average snow! I do not believe that for a second. Their track record has been horrible if not ridiculous this winter!

    1. Irish coffee says:

      Temps should def. be ABOVE in that timeframe; any precip/snow is a guessing game at this point— fwiw, Ontario(LAKE) still wide open for bizness …w/ up to 3ft on the way by Fri am(on top of a 42″ snowcover attm)

      1. Steve says:

        I agree but keep in mind that normal temps for that time period are mid 30s (for highs). So HPC might not be that far off.

  10. [...] have a more widespread ice cover, the billion dollar shipping activity comes to a virtual halt.  Click on this link to view a map of the extent of Great Lakes ice during the cold and snowy winter of 1979, the last time the Great [...]

  11. Jordan (Twin Lake) says:

    Surprised fixxxer wasn’t bitching on this date.

  12. Elliott says:

    Spent the Winter of 1973 on all the Greats Lakes with the Coast Guard Ice Breaker Southwind as a BM3. Had never saw so much ice in my life, Thought for sure I would see Penguins and Polar Bears out on the far reaches of the ice covered lakes.

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