Great Lakes Ice Growing

February 13th, 2014 at 3:22 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

Great Lakes Ice Coverage Maximum annual   frozen lake Michigan beth goz Click on the images to enlarge.  The first image is the maximum ice extent each winter (from GLERL).   We’re currently at 87% ice cover on the Great Lakes.  We had a maximum of just 12.9% in 2012 and 38.4% last year.   The highest years were 1979 with 94.7% and 1994 with 90.7%.  While the ice coverage is largely a function of temperature, there are other factors, like wind that can break up ice and to a small extent even icebreaking ships.    In 1994, we had a cold winter, but a mid-February warm-up with highs in G.R. starting on 2/14/94 of 40, 37, 39, 51, 53, 55, 53 and 36 before we went back below freezing for the rest of the month.  BTW, the summer of 1994 was ever-so-slightly cooler than average, due to August being cool and wet.  Here’s the 1979 max on 2/19.  After 2/19, temperatures were milder on average.  In 1979, it never got warmer than 90 during that summer.  It did hit 90 exactly five times.  We had 4 days between 82 and 88 from May 7-10, then it didn’t make 80 again until the first week of June and we didn’t make 90 that summer until July 12th.  July was drier than average and August was wetter than average that year.

The image on the right is from Beth Goz.  She was flying from Chicago to Grand Rapids and snapped this picture of the ice on Lake Michigan on Feb. 7th.  You can see lots of open water between the ice floes and in the distance, more open water where the lake-effect clouds are forming.  Here’s another pic. of the south end of Lake Michigan taken last Monday.

We are gaining daylight at a rapid clip.  We have now gained one hour and three minutes of daylight in the evening since the 2nd week of December and we continue to gain daylight at the rate of about 2 1/2 minutes per day.

Tuesday and Wednesday were the first back-to-back dry (no precipitation) days in G.R. since Dec. 1-2.  February 1-11 was the coldest for those 11 days in the contiguous U.S. since 1989.  Feb. 1-12 was 11.3° colder than average in G.R. and 13.7° colder than average in Holland and Kalamazoo.

The models give us a chance of a period of light snow (maybe 1/2″) tonight and again Saturday night and they continue to give us a mix, including the possibility of a period of freezing rain on Monday.    The GFS-plot has more precipitation for Monday (0.45″) than the European (0.23″).  It could be a freezing rain to rain to snow event.   The GFS-plot takes the temp. in G.R. to 37 next Weds., 44 Thurs., 38 Fri. and 36 on Sat. then below freezing the rest of the month.  The European has highs of 42 Weds., 53 Thurs., 43 Fri. and 40 on Sat.   Needless to say, a pattern chance next week.

102 Responses to “Great Lakes Ice Growing”

  1. TomKap (Michigan St. & Fuller) Grand Rapids says:

    I’ll put my money on that European! ;)

  2. Dan says:

    I think it safe to say that the great lakes ice is at the max for this season. Out of curiousity, how thick is the ice on Lake Michigan? I know the thickness will vary. Anybody know how much open water there actually is? Its just amazing to think about. I actually think 18 degrees feels warm.

    1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

      Lk Michigan map is here:

      http://iceweb1.cis.ec.gc.ca/Prod20/page3.xhtml

  3. Dan says:

    I don’t know if you follow baseball or not TomKap. Today the pitchers and catchers begin reporting for spring training.

    1. fixxxer says:

      I dont care about baseball. I just want warm weather to get here.

      1. Dave in Jenison says:

        You can’t have warm weather without baseball.

    2. GunLakeDeb says:

      That’s always a good sign – crocuses come next? :-)

      1. Sandy(Hudsonville) says:

        GREAT THOUGHT!! I can’t wait to see mine.

  4. Dan says:

    fixxxer that was the point. Can I ask you when the warmer weather arrives will you post a positive comment or two?

  5. YeahThatDan says:

    Wow, it is! Cold. I love, a cold winter! Snow and below temps! What say you tomkap!

  6. INDY says:

    5 years later and fixer is still idiot been dead twice and back all on Bills blog!!! Weather news its still cold outside!!!! I drink to that!!! INDYY….

  7. Mark (East Lansing) says:

    I’m loving that it’s light out at the bus stop in the morning. C’mon Spring!

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      I was just thinking the same thing as I went out to start the car, feels nice out as well.

    2. Lisa (Caledonia) says:

      I just noticed the same thing yesterday morning! :)

    3. GunLakeDeb says:

      Oh my gosh – I’m happier about the sunlight, than the rise in temps…LOL!!

      1. Jim says:

        Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
        Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here

        Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
        And I say it’s all right

  8. kevin. w says:

    Some of the models are starting to hone in on storm in about 10 days. http://meteocentre.com/models/get_anim.php?mod=gemglb&run=00&stn=PNMPR&map=na&lang=en

    1. Boris says:

      Hey Kevin. Is the southeast ridge still showing signs of developing and how would that effect our weather? Thanks in advance.

      1. kevin. w says:

        Eastern ridge flexing its muscle but not sure of its sustainability, but I think March is going to be a fluctuating month. http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/500mb.php

        1. DJ2450 says:

          Agreed, it’s time for the rollercoaster ride.

        2. Boris says:

          Thanks.

    2. GunLakeDeb says:

      Oh wow. And I don’t mean “wow” in a good sense – I pray the forecast changes before that?

  9. Travis (Oakland County) says:

    Here’s Tom Skilling’s 50 degree map for next Friday. 50 degrees all the way up to northern Michigan!

    http://tribunecwcblog.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/nextweekwarming.jpg

    WXYZ has bumped up their temps to 45-50-50-45

    1. Mike (southeast Berrien county) says:

      It won’t last long though….. the cold & snow is not over yet. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152166164871760&set=pcb.10152166165371760&type=1&theater

      1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

        2 degrees below average temps the first week of March would still be above freezing.

        1. kevin. w says:

          yep

      2. GunLakeDeb says:

        And THAT might be what saves a lot of homes from flooding – slowing down the thaw.

  10. on the grand says:

    How long will it take for Lake Michigan to defrost.

    1. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

      Do you mean melt the ice or be warm enough to swim in? well both cases it all depends on how warm it gets and how much sun we have. One year in Alpena there was ice on the shore on the first of May and well into April was the norm.
      SlimJim

    2. Wswplz says:

      They think it will be a month behind, according to an article I was reading. Normally June…for temps to regulate…..not sure if that is what your asking.

      1. Wswplz says:

        * actually Aug. this year.

  11. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    It’s a much milder morning here with a temp of 21° I wonder with the sun today if we can make it to 30° or better? Also it looks like our February thaw is still very much on tap. And with the warmer temps and the anticipated rain there will be snow melt but the snow that is left after the what now looks like at least a 4 to 6 day warm spell will be water logged and much heaver. One has to wonder how the usual up and down month of March will play out? As for the spring season as a whole. With the ice on the lakes I would expect there will be a lot of “cold” days especially as one gets closer to any of the Great Lakes. I would expect that to be the case all spring and even into the early summer at times. I remember as s kid when we lived in both Bay City and Alpena where there would be many days when the temp at our house would only be in the low 40’s while only a few miles inland the temps would be in the low to mid 60’s.
    SlimJim

    1. DJ2450 says:

      The effects of Lake Michigan are present all summer long. Many times in July and August our temps here in the center of the State will be 5 to 10 and sometimes even 15 degrees warmer than those of lakeshore communities. This is especially true during times of excessive heat. On the other hand the first frost comes much earlier here in the fall. The winters are warmer near the lakeshore and the spring is cooler at the lakeshore.

    2. yooper4021 says:

      I lived in Escanaba, and Lake Michigan had a significant impact on spring/summer weather. Common to have lots of low clouds/fog in spring, as temps warmed, winds turned more southerly, and ice on the lake (Green Bay)was melting. Also, common in the summer for temps to be 10-15 degrees cooler than just a few miles inland. The trade off was winter – much less snow than in Lake Superior snowbelts.

  12. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    On a side note as we are now half way thru this month. Looking ahead at March. March can be a very variable month. But we usually after mid March it will start to become more milder and in fact in March we should (if not sooner) see our first upper 50° day and in most years our first 60+ day and in many years a run at our first 70° day and once in a while our first 80° day. So while this winter may come back after the upcoming thaw. It more likely then not that in less then 5 weeks we will have more spring like weather.
    But there could be some big surprises along the way only time will tell.
    SlimJim

  13. How about this nice March weather in 2012

    3-14 78.3
    3-15 76.7
    3-16 73.1
    3-17 79.2
    3-18 73.8
    3-19 79.8
    3-20 83.1
    3-21 87.2
    3-22 76.4

    1. Nice unless you grow fruit, then when this happened you knew you were in trouble.

      1. yooper4021 says:

        Yeah, let’s not do that again. What a terrible year for apples (and many other crops).

    2. Brenda (Otsego) says:

      Ya, that was a nice spring but I didn’t care for the scorching summer that followed. Had to spend too many days inside secondary to the heat :(

    3. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

      That was one of those events that most would never expect to happen (here in Michigan) lest just hope we do not have a flood event this spring we never expected to happen (ie, worst then last year and 1904_
      SlimJim

    4. GunLakeDeb says:

      On St Patrick’s Day – there were kids playing in Gun Lake. Not really swimming, just jumping in and splashing around. Granted, kids are tough and the west side of Gun warms up really fast, but still……

    5. Sandy(Hudsonville) says:

      This is too warm for March. It caused all kinds of fruit tree problems & plants.

    6. Bill Steffen says:

      I went swimming (and kayaking) on Gun Lake on 3/19/2012. I got a water temp. of 64 a foot down in 3 feet of water at the State Park Beach….awesome day.

    7. Dingid Forester jr. says:

      Went swimming in Lake Michigan on 3/22 of that spring. :)

  14. Mike (southeast Berrien county) says:

    Tom Skilling still saying that after a brief warm up next week, a return to below normal temps follows for the 1st part of March. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152166164871760&set=pcb.10152166165371760&type=1&theater

    1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

      Mid to upper 30′s with a bunch of 40′s mixed in. I’ll take it.

      1. yooper4021 says:

        That would be perfect. Keep the melt under control.

      2. Michael g (se gr) says:

        Not sure that 4* below normal for the first week of March means a “bunch of 40′s”, but hey, don’t let the facts get in the way of your agenda, right?

        1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

          Michael g(rumps) strikes again!

          Well, let’s break it down shall we? I’m in the 1-2 degrees below average in that chart. March 3rd average high is 39. March 9th average high is 42 degrees. This graph is, therefore, implying a 37-41 degree range.

          Didn’t know the facts had an agenda!

        2. Alli says:

          How is there an agenda? Maybe you should take a look at the average temps for this time of year and early March.

          We are now to the point where average temps are above freezing.

          http://www.weather.com/weather/wxclimatology/daily/USMI0344

        3. Wswplz says:

          For those that live closer to G.R we won’t be seeing a bunch of 40′s by the way, according to the graphic above that is….average temps G.R have been from 31-33…implying 29-30 deg. Just didn’t want people to be putting on there bathing suits just yet.

        4. Travis (Oakland County) says:

          The graphic is for March 3rd and beyond.

        5. Michael g (se gr) says:

          Better read that map again Trav. No one in Mi, even Flint, is in the -1 to -2* range.

        6. Wswplz says:

          Yes, I know they are, that’s why my temps reflect March 3-9….

        7. Wswplz says:

          1981-2010 average temps

  15. dereks says:

    Funny how history repeats its self, it looks like were going to warm up just like 94. If we copy the spring of summer of 79 I would be happy!

  16. INDY says:

    Bill Jack and Jerry Hoag I just sent u guys invites to my INDY 500 party May 25th out at thee YARDofBRICKS check your facebook!!! Think May!!!! INDYY!!

  17. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Record flooding is not what we want, a warm up without a lot of rain is fine!

  18. Michael g (se gr) says:

    Could be a sneaky snow event on Monday. Not saying it will happen, but a 6″ dump could push our snowcover to a record right before the meltdown arrives .

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      Cool! If we’ve had to “suffer” through a relentless winter – it might as well be a record-breaker!

  19. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Weather.com must not be buying into that warm up on Saturday the 22nd, they have 28 as a high with snow, different temps different sources, this is the thing I don’t like when things are forecasted out so far, they can change 100 more times before the day occurs

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      I sure hope so, because that forecast model that Kevin W posted showed a frightening amount of rain on the 21st; and Travis’ chart showed warm temps.

      Why do *I* care? My house won’t/can’t flood – but there’s a lot of folks in harm’s way with that scenario. For the last year, I’ve been studying a small (impaired) creek that leads into Gun Lake, and an upper stretch has a damaged bridge from last Spring. If it washes out – it will brings tens-of-thousands of cubic yards of sand/sediment into the upper channels of Gun Lake :-(

  20. on the grand says:

    So I am now taking my backyard measurements, the river water level at my seawall is 41 inches ( remember we had no water last winter and low water level for the summer) and the ice is 15 inches deep and I have about 40 inches before it breaches the sea wall, that has happened 3x in 10 years and 98 ft before it is in the house, that happened once because of a rapid warm up and ice jams at the 31 bridge. Normally the water level at the seawall is 4-5 ft so I am thankful for the low measurement. Now we wait and see, as I said before, from the Spring Lake High School (that is as far as I can see) up to the bridge, pass the railroad bridge, into the town of Grand Haven and through the channel out to the lighthouse and into Lake Michigan for miles is solid ice.

    1. GunLakeDeb says:

      Crossing my fingers for you, that we have a gentle warmup. Flooding is bad enough; but when that water is pushing blocks of heavy ice, it does even more damage….

  21. rockthiscountry says:

    IT IS SUNNY AND 58 DEGREES AT 8:30 IN THE MORNING HERE IN PRESCOTT ARIZONA.YOU CAN HAVE YOUR WARM 28 DEGREES

    1. Wswplz says:

      And you can keep your 125 degree summers.. :)

  22. kevin. w says:

    Latest thinking from the Hydro meteorological Center for late next week and the following week is long duration thaw with a couple embedded low pressures of one which may be significant around the 22nd-25th time frame. With a deep snowpack in place area National Weather Services may need to issue a hydrological outlook. I see northern Indiana has already issued one and wonder if others will follow. Interesting weather coming for sure.

  23. Bnoppe says:

    Grand Rapids just did

  24. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Hydro outlook from grr

    HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK
    MIC005-015-025-037-045-057-065-067-073-075-077-081-105-107-121-123-
    133-139-142203-

    HYDROLOGIC OUTLOOK
    NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE GRAND RAPIDS MI
    1103 AM EST THU FEB 13 2014

    …INCREASED FLOOD POTENTIAL INTO LATE FEBRUARY…

    SEVERAL FACTORS WILL COMBINE TO CREATE AN INCREASED FLOOD RISK
    STARTING LATE NEXT WEEK…CONTINUE THROUGH THE END OF
    FEBRUARY AND IN TO EARLY MARCH. THE INCREASED FLOOD RISK IS DUE TO
    THE FOLLOWING FACTORS WHICH ARE SIGNIFICANTLY ABOVE NORMAL…
    PRECIPITATION…SNOW DEPTH…WATER IN THE SNOWPACK… ICE ON
    RIVERS…AND SOIL MOISTURE. THE WEATHER PATTERN IS CHANGING AND
    WARMER WEATHER…WITH THE POSSIBILITY FOR RAIN…IS ON THE WAY FOR
    NEXT WEEK. THE BIGGEST THREAT WILL COME LATER NEXT WEEK WHEN
    TEMPERATURES WILL BE THE WARMEST AND THE BEST CHANCE OF RAIN WILL
    BE PRESENT. THIS CHANGE IN THE WEATHER PATTERN INCREASES THE RISK FOR
    WIDESPREAD FLOODING IN SOUTHWEST LOWER MICHIGAN.

    PRECIPITATION FOR THE FALL OF 2013 AND WINTER OF 2014 WAS ABOVE
    NORMAL.

    THE SNOWPACK IS ABOVE NORMAL FOR THIS TIME OF YEAR AND CONTAINS A
    LARGE QUANTITY OF STORED WATER…GENERALLY 2.5 TO 5 INCHES ACROSS
    SOUTHWEST LOWER MICHIGAN. A WINTRY MIX WILL DEVELOP EARLY MONDAY AND
    FURTHER ADD TO THE AMOUNT OF WATER LOCKED IN PLACE BY THE SNOW COVER.

    WHILE AREA RIVERS ARE FLOWING AT NEAR NORMAL LEVELS…THE AMOUNT AND
    THICKNESS OF ICE ON AREA RIVERS IS ABOVE NORMAL. THE POTENTIAL FOR
    BREAK UP AND DOWNSTREAM MOVEMENT OF THICK ICE ON RIVERS WOULD
    INCREASE THE RISK FOR ICE JAMS TO DEVELOP AND FURTHER EXACERBATE THE
    FLOODING RISK. ICE JAMS IN RIVERS TEND TO FORM NEAR SHARP BENDS…IN
    SHALLOW AREAS…AND NEAR OBSTRUCTIONS…LIKE BRIDGES AND ISLANDS. ICE
    BREAKUP ON RIVERS CAN OCCUR WHENEVER THE RIVER STAGE RISES 1.5 TO 3
    TIMES THE RIVER ICE THICKNESS. ICE JAMS ON RIVERS CAN RESULT IN
    UNPREDICTABLE RAPID RISES ON RIVERS.

    A WARM-UP IS FORECAST FOR NEXT WEEK AND LIKELY CONTINUE INTO
    THE LAST WEEK OF FEBRUARY. INCREASED RUNOFF FROM THE SNOWMELT ATOP
    THE FROZEN GROUND WILL LEAD TO A HEIGHTENED POTENTIAL FOR FLOODING IN
    LOW LYING AREAS…BASEMENTS AND SMALL STREAMS AND CREEKS. SIGNIFICANT
    RISES ALONG MAJOR STEM RIVERS COULD FOLLOW. SHOULD A SIGNIFICANT
    RAIN EVENT OCCUR DURING THIS WARMER PERIOD…THE POTENTIAL FOR…AND
    THE SEVERITY OF…RESULTANT FLOODING WOULD GREATLY INCREASE.

    FUTURE FLOODING IS A POSSIBILITY AT THIS TIME…AND THE THREAT IS
    INCREASING WITH THE FORECASTED WARM UP FOR NEXT WEEK. IF YOU LIVE IN
    A FLOOD PRONE AREA…NOW IS THE TIME TO PREPARE FOR POSSIBLE
    FLOODING. STAY ALERT TO THE LATEST FORECASTS TRENDS OVER THE NEXT
    SEVERAL DAYS BY VISITING WEATHER.GOV/GRR.

    ADDITIONAL FLOOD AWARENESS INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE AT
    WEATHER.GOV/FLOODSAFETY AND READY.GOV/FLOODS

    $$

    1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

      Wow, long duration thaw.

      Groundhog, you lied to me!

      1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

        As you mentioned above, average highs are, or shortly will be, above freezing. So if we have an extended stretch of average temps, it will be a long duration thaw – which I will welcome gleefully.

  25. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Right now the Monday system is looking like a snow maker for areas north of 94, 3-6″ of snow from 96 to the north, closer to 6″ near Ludington and 8-12″ northern lower

    1. Wswplz says:

      I’ll take it…just won’t to see all snow at least through February. Really you usually don’t have the big snow storms without p type questions, it’s part of the dance.

      1. Wswplz says:

        * want….don’t know why I correct…

    2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

      With forecasted highs above freezing, I wonder how much will actually accumulate?

      1. John (Norton Shores) says:

        Highs will below freezing north of 96, but above freezing south of 94 so right now it looks like rain south of 94, a mix between 94 and 96 and all snow north of 96

        1. John (Norton Shores) says:

          Very tight event in terms of precipitation types

        2. Mark (East Lansing) says:

          NWS and WOOD both show highs above freezing.

        3. John (Norton Shores) says:

          GFS and EURO both support all snow north of 94 with the highest accumulations north of 96 but right now were still five days out so much can change, we will see.

        4. Mark (East Lansing) says:

          A significant snowfall right before the warm up would not be good.

        5. John (Norton Shores) says:

          No it wouldn’t

  26. mr. negative says:

    Tremendous snow “sneaking-up” on us from the West…prepare now!

  27. kevin. w says:

    12z gefs and 0z euro super ensemble showing quite a storm with lots rain and warm weather coming, and betting most NWS sites today will have hydro outlook issued.

    1. Paul m says:

      I’m very concern about next weekend storm.if we has 50 degree weather and gusty winds for 24 hour period with rain.you can say goodbye to most of our snowpack.something to keep an eye on as must of us know models change.

  28. Paul (Yankee Springs-Barry State Game Area) says:

    32.9° beautiful degrees here in the woods……taking this opportunity to clear the roof so there are no problems in the future

  29. Tyler says:

    I remember that fall of 1994 being pretty warm if I remember right. I don’t really remember the summer weather wise though. If I remember right that 4th of July of 94 we had a heavy rainstorm that canceled all the 4th events. I remember they had it a few days later out in Bark River just west of Escanaba. I remember going out to South Dakota that year in August. I seem to remember it being kind of cool out there that year.

    1. Vincent(N.E.Kent CO) says:

      That’s a whole lot of 7 rememberings there Tyler from ESSKY. WOW!

      1. Mark (East Lansing) says:

        Yeah, don’t you remember?

  30. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    I have been mentioning the SNOW for Monday and Monday night for days now, however the warm weather nuts will not face the facts! Who knew? Bring it!

    http://wxcaster.com/gis-gfs-snow-overlays.php3?STATIONID=GRR

    1. Alli says:

      Hey I like this guy,he’s funny like a clown.

  31. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    You gotta love this! Imagine that! The warm up will be very brief! I love it! Keep the COLD and SNOW coming for another 6 weeks!

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/814temp.new.gif

    http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/814day/814prcp.new.gif

    1. Wswplz says:

      They have pushed the warm sector east, be interesting if this holds…let’s hope so. Would be nice if we could get in the snow zone with the p type for once…everything north of the 96..good for Rockford and Cedar…I would actually like that line to move a little south, then we would be in the heaviest snow area…all wishes of course.

  32. John (Norton Shores) says:

    It was on the news last night that schools in Michigan will now have to add days to the end of their school year instead of minutes since it’s more convenient, so all those schools that have missed 13 days may very well be going to school a couple weeks longer, it was the board of educations decision not the governors this time

    1. Ansel says:

      It is up for proposal, but not for sure. Why not leave it up to the districts? Last I checked our board of educators haven’t been making the best decisions regarding education in this state.

      1. John (Norton Shores) says:

        I just read an article, I think it will be up to the schools still, but what the article said is the board of education is recommending adding says instead of minutes,not sure what the convenience is of that

        1. John (Norton Shores) says:

          *days* not says haha

  33. SW Kent says:

    We are in a cool, dry pattern? Who knew?
    The week of Feb 18th thru the 25 th we will lose 70 percent of our snow cover. Who knew?
    We will not have 6 weeks of cold and snow. It has never happened from March 1 thru April 15 and it never will.
    Snow for early next week then the big thaw begins.

  34. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Who would of thought! It is currently COLD with SNOW and we have a lot of SNOW in the upcoming forecast, then a brief warm up and then we will be getting hammered with SNOW! Get ready to ROCK n ROLL people!

  35. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    The heavier SNOW line is creeping to the South for the Monday storm! Imagine that – how is it possible?

    http://www.instantweathermaps.com/GFS-php/showmap-conussfc.php?run=2014021318&time=PER&var=ASNOWI&hour=126

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