Great Lakes Ice GrowingJanuary 21st, 2014 at 6:35 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
Here’s the afternoon MODIS satellite pictures of Lake Michigan (on the left), Lake Superior (center) and Lake Erie (on the right). Click on the pictures to enlarge. The cold air is causing ice to form at a steady rate on the Great Lakes. Green Bay is ice covered and you can see ice along the shore east of Illinois. Lake Superior has a lot of ice now west of the Keweenaw Peninsula and you can see that Lake Erie is now mostly ice covered. Lake Erie is the shallowest of the Great Lakes and often the lake with the highest percentage of ice cover in winter. The Lake Michigan pic. shows one dominant band of lake-effect snow, which produced snowfall rates as high as 3″ in an hour in northern Indiana. One official at the Gary IN airport said they’ve had “up to 18″ of new snow! Up to 8 1/2″ of snow fell in the Chicago area. As ice increases, it will minimize the lake influence (lake-effect clouds, lake-effect warming downwind from the lakes, and lake-effect snow). The last time the Great Lakes were more than 90% ice covered was 1979. Even when the temperatures are cold, strong winds (it’ll be windy here on Friday) can act to break up the ice, so getting to 90% ice cover is a very rare event. It’s not totally clear that all the Great Lakes have ever been 100% frozen over. Satellite pictures started in 1979 and in prior years, pilots said you could almost always find a small stretch of open water. Look at the temperature departure from average for the next 16 days from the GFS model…warm in the West…very long period of exceptionally cold air in the East.
Also, Fort Wayne ties the winter of 1977-78 with snowiest winter to date at 33.2″.