Ice Increasing on the Great Lakes

January 8th, 2014 at 8:00 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

modis lake michigan    Modis Lake Superior  muskegon glerl Here’s a couple of the MODIS satellite pictures taken today of Lake Michigan (on the left) and Lake Superior (in the middle).  On the right is a picture from the Muskegon GLERL camera at sunset.  You can see on the horizon the west edge of the lake-effect clouds.  Click on the images to enlarge (it’s worth it).  As ice continues to form at the shoreline, the distance that the air travels over open water will diminish and that will eventually cut into the lake-effect snow.  Note that the distance over water shrinks with a west wind, but with a north or northwest wind, there will still be sizable distance that the cold air has to move across open water to get to Lower Michigan.   The Coast Guard says this is “the worst ice season in…decades”.  A Coast Guard dispatcher at the Soo says they freed three ships Monday.   He called this ice significantly worse than other years.    From this link:   Ice on  Lake Superior out to Bayfield WI is already up to a foot thick.   Duluth-Superior tugboat Captain Mike Ojaard says the ice is the worst he’s seen and keeps getting thicker.    “One ice chunk touches another and it just keeps building down: some areas it’s as much as five feet thick.  “It’s the toughest winter that I’ve seen in my 68 years.”  Here’s a graph of Great Lakes ice cover since the satellite pics. started in 1979.   Note the trend is upward since the PDO went to cold phase in 2012.   Note how the phase of the PDO is a pretty good track to global temperature…negative in the 60s and 70s…positive in the 80s and 90s.  Global temperatures have been flat since 2002 (graph is raw NASA data, unmanipulated).  Check out my past blog with a picture of a HUGE ice ridge on Lake Superior.   Here’s a pic. of Great Lakes ice cover at the highest observed level in Feb. 1979.

25 Responses to “Ice Increasing on the Great Lakes”

  1. Hudsonville Barn Cat says:

    A lot of people don’t know this, but people in Michigan are actually descendants of the ancient Wisconsinites, who crossed the “land bridge” from Wisconsin to modern-day Ludington when all of Lake Michigan froze solid one winter back in the paleolithic age. Anthropologists recently discovered 8,000 year old cheese hats up near Rothbury.

    1. John (Holland) says:

      I’ll be damned if I have Wisconsinite blood in my veins.

      1. John (Holland) says:

        That’s a joke, btw. Hello Cheeseheads!

  2. Jim S (Saugatuck Twp) says:

    18Z GFS shows over an inch of rain this weekend, with a strong low pressure passing just west of us. That could be trouble.

  3. DF (SE Mich) says:

    The most ice, this early, since the 1980′s is confusing to some.

    1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

      Entirely wrong statement there. See graph below.

      1. DF (SE Mich) says:

        LOL, thank you for proving my point.

  4. bluegill says:

    I remember the Great Lakes freeze over in 1979 – that was the winter I learned to drive. Will be interesting to see how many communities have problems with water pipes freezing – though we likely need more sunny days for it to be widely spread. The sunny day/clear night combination is quite a powerhouse for freezing the ground deep – perhaps we need the snow and clouds to continue to avert it.

    1. Greg Sobran says:

      If I remember, the clear cold skies made for little snow to insulate the ground, and the frost went especially deep that year. I think it went down a good four feet or so in most places.

  5. Grady Foster says:

    “We are having basically our worst ice season in probably decades,” Lieut. Chad Yeamans, who helps oversee icebreaking operations with the U.S. Coast Guard in Detroit, said Tuesday.

  6. kevin. w says:

    Was just watching a weatherman from Minnesota tv station and is saying that the worst of winter is yet to come and as the south starts to warm up look for more bigger storms and cold the next few months. :)

    1. Scott says:

      I’ve been saying that for over a month now, and see no reason to change my thinking on this.

      Some people keep coming back with “Well, Around here, this usually..or that usually…” People need to realize this is absolutely NOT a usual year and “usually” is thrown out the window with this season.

      Yes, there will be a thaw. But there will also be more powerhouse storms, and cold. We will not be out of the clear until April – and even then, cold and some snow could even hang around a little longer.

  7. ER From GR says:


    1. Scott says:

      Wow! That’s quite a prediction! And for such a prediction, there has to be quite the indicator. Care to explain why you’ve pinpointed such a strong storm and why that timeframe?

      Or is this a trade secret? :)

    2. Jack says:

      ER, Is Your Model….Based on The JEM Model ?? If Not for the Sum of Big $$$$$ I Will Share a Link to The JEM !! P.s. I’ll let ya Know IF This does Not…VERIFY !! Lol… stay Cued !!! ER!!! PEACE!!!

  8. Brian(Grandville) says:

    On ramps, and off ramps were in bad shape today, at least this morning in Kzoo, and B.C. I managed to put my 4WD SUV sideways twice on the ice packed entry/exits. Saw plenty of others in the ditch. Glad to see its finally loosening up a bit.

  9. Jack says:

    From The Link Bill Provided !! Ojaard says it’s been a long, hard couple of months. “It’s a tough winter; we’ve been breaking ice since the fifth of November,” he said. “It’s not over yet. Make sure the public keeps us in mind, and in their prayers.”

    The Soo Locks close January 15, so Ojaard and the Coast Guard still have a couple more weeks of breaking ice. Thoughts, and Prayers There WAY !! Stay Cued ……. ;-)

  10. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    Kalamazoo broke the record for low temps the past 3 days. -12 Monday, -11 Tuesday, and -13 Wednesday.

  11. Travis (Oakland County) says:

    Here’s the facts on the ice coverage. Currently, if you look at all the Great Lakes, we’re at ice levels not seen since 1994. Reports that it’s as bad as the 80′s or 70′s are entirely false.

    Also, as seen on the chart below, we are very close to the same ice levels at this time of year seen in 1996, 2001, and 2011. After the coming warm up, we may very well be eclipsed by at least these years as well in terms of ice coverage.

    This also marks the first time in the last three years ice is currently above the long-term average.

    Since 2002, there have been 9 times that ice was below average by this point of winter. Compare this with only 4 times in which ice was above average.

    This means the short-term trend, as well as the long-term trend, are not up… but are actually down.

    Full written summary found on Jeff Masters blog.

    1. Jack says:

      Well My Oh…My !!! Travis is Whistilng Dixe AGAIN ::::: NOW That’s A FACT JACK ( yes, Pun Intended) !! Lol….stay CUED !!! For MORE Facts from BILL !!!! Not traavvvis …. ;-)

    2. Bill Steffen says:

      Fact: For about a month, the ice cover on the Great Lakes was higher than at any time since 1989. We had a 5-day thaw that bounced us down a few places. Now, the Arctic cold is coming back, ice cover will grow fairly rapidly and we’ll be back to a 25-year high (and considering the latest GFS) and maybe the most ice since 1979. You can follow Great Lakes ice cover here:

      Jeff Masters, his Weather Underground and MSNBC are all part of the same parent company…when the ice gets thick and extensive, you either won’t see anything from Jeff Masters, or he’ll blame the cold on “Climate Change”. Of course, it used to be “global warming” until someone noticed the warming stopped – so they had to change terminology in mid-stream. But this is what they predicted:

      The steady global temps. since 2002 – the extreme cold – that’s NOT what they predicted – NOT what they forecast. Human and animal mortality peaks in winter and it’s a great hardship to many when we have winters with extended periods of Siberian cold.

      1. Willi says:

        You nailed it on Doc Masters Weather Underground, a name that pays homage to the radical 60s movement. The site’s blog is a mix of useful idiots, green ideologues, and central plan watchdogs. The goal is increased energy taxation, etc …

    3. Psalmon says:

      “Reports that it’s as bad as the 80′s or 70′s are entirely false.”

      Travis, Great Lakes Ice Coverage for the same week released today shows 2014 equal to winters of 1981 and 82, only eclipsed by 94.

      You remind me of the Iraq spokesman Baghdad Bob who claimed there were no US forces near the capital.

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