Great Lakes ice cover nears a record high for second straight year

With temperatures staying well below average for the last 3 weeks or so, the buildup of ice on the Great Lakes is once again nearing record proportions. Ice on the lakes peaked at 92.5% last year because of the record breaking cold the region was experiencing. This year, the Great Lakes are now 84% ice covered marking the first time since the late 1970's that 80% or more of the lakes have been coated in back to back years.

 

The ice was on a steady but very slow increase through the month of January, but the last several shots of Arctic air have coated the Lakes over with ice in the blink of an eye with the expansion of frozen cover more than doubling in the last couple of weeks. The average peak ice cover is just over 50% as you can see in the graph below. But because satellites weren't around until the 70's, we have a pretty small sampling.

 

Last year was the first time that ice covered more than three quarters of the lakes in the 21st century, and now we have done it 2 years in a row. Check out what that ice looks like from above with these visible satellite images courtesy of NASA and The Weather Channel…

Lake Superior

 

Lake Michigan

 

Lake Huron

 

Lake Ontario