(KMSP) - The Great Lakes are some of the largest fresh water lakes in the world, but even really large bodies of water can freeze over if it’s cold enough. While a complete freeze over almost never occurs, mostly because Superior is so deep, roughly 40 percent of the surface area of the lakes will ice over each winter at some point.
The most ice seen recently was back in the VERY cold winter of 2013-2014 where more than 80 percent of the lakes froze over. The average water temperature of all five lakes continues dropping until the early to middle part of March when the sun angle finally becomes high enough to begin to offset the cold waters and start the warming process.
So far this year, ice coverage has peaked right around 35 percent when the very cold arctic air hovered over the east for the middle couple of weeks of January. Since then, lake ice has dropped slightly as winds and slightly warmer air have allowed some of this ice to break up and melt.
This week, ice is sitting just over 20 percent, which is below seasonal norms, but totally normal for the bulk of the ice cover to wax and wane.
With another cold week expected across the east, you can bet the ice will be building once again with peak season just on the horizon. It doesn’t usually last long though as ice peaks in early March but is practically gone on average by early April.