WEST MICHIGAN — (Mar. 8, 2014) A cold end to February and start to March helped the Great Lakes inch ever so much closer to the all-time record for ice coverage. A return to warmer temperatures stopped the ice growth in a few of the lakes so it is very possible that this last week was the peak of ice coverage on the Great Lakes this winter.
The Great Lakes came VERY close to tying the all-time record of 94.76 percent set back in 1979 but came up short with 92.2 percent coverage on March 6th. Lake Michigan was even closer to tying their record but came up short by only two one-hundredths of a percent. Lake Michigan peaked at 92.98 percent March 5th barely tying the record from 1977. It is probably fair to argue that Lake Michigan did in fact tie the record, considering records from the late 70’s were likely not as accurate as our modern high-resolution satellite measurements and the actual measurement may have been rounded up. Either way, it was a record-breaking winter all the way around and with temperatures slowly starting to warm and the sun angle increasing it is very likely that we will see continued gradual melting of the Great Lakes ice. This gradual melt will be a great thing for lake levels, especially after Lake Michigan set a record low just one year ago.
Temperatures in the next 7 days will be up and down like a roller coaster. This is a great indication that we may have finally broke our arctic cold pattern. As seasons transition across the continent, the weather pattern becomes amplified meaning that temperatures will swing from warmer to colder within a few days. This is a good sign for West Michigan because even if average temperatures stay below average, this up and down pattern suggests that the seasonal pattern is actually finally starting to change and we may finally break the long, cold streak.
Speaking of streaks, Saturday marks 90-days of consistent snow cover in West Michigan. Meaning there has been consistent snow cover on the ground since December 8th. While, this has felt like a long time it actually isn’t the record but with a slow gradual melt in the forecast for the next 7 days, we will likely beat that record in the next 24 days.