Ice cover increases dramatically for Great Lakes

Beyond The Forecast

(WFRV) – Arctic air has blanketed the Midwest through most of February and as a result ice coverage over the Great Lakes has increased rapidly. Temperatures plummeted after a large cold front moved in February 5th.

Since then, there have been 12 days with overnight lows below zero degrees here in Green Bay. At one point there was 133 straight hours of wind chills below zero from Feb 5 to Feb 10.

These are the ice concentration levels now compared to what we saw Feb 5 across all the Great Lakes. Notice, across the board each Great Lake has at least doubled in ice concentration.

Lake Michigan now stands at 30 percent compared to 11.2 percent back only two weeks ago. Meanwhile, Lake Superior went from 3.6 percent to 41.7 percent coverage in that same period.

The Great Lakes average ice cover has a whole is 40.1 percent, that is more than 4 times more than what is was on Feb 5. That is right back on track to the near 40 year long-term average, after being near record lows for the month of January. Ice coverage typically peaks during February.

Feb 17, 2021: Satellite view of Great Lakes, courtesy: University of Wisconsin

Temperatures will rise to above freezing next week which will affect ice coverage. Peak ice coverage may have been reached for the season once these temperatures kick in.

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