WEST MICHIGAN — 2013-2014 was a record year for Great Lakes ice, as bitter cold temperatures and snow caused the lakes to reach record numbers of ice coverage.
It’s a record that would be hard to beat but an abnormally cold February has helped catapult ice coverage on the Great Lakes over levels from just a year ago.
Wednesday marked a new milestone for the winter of 2014-2015 as the total Great Lakes ice coverage hit 85.4%, surpassing the levels this time last year.
While the average ice coverage on the Great Lakes surpasses the amount from this time last year, Lake Michigan is still below it’s record levels of a year ago.
At 63.4 percent, the ice on Lake Michigan is growing significantly, as just a week ago levels were just over 33 percent. There is no doubt that sub-zero temperatures and lake-effect snow over the last week has helped increase the coverage.
The difference this year as compared to last year in ice coverage really lies in Lake Ontario. As one of the largest and deepest Great Lakes, the shear volume of water makes this lake very difficult to form major ice coverage.
Even with the record-breaking winter of 2014, it struggled to form ice coverage throughout the brutal winter. This winter is radically different with over 75 percent of the lake covered in ice!
While ice coverage has surpassed last years levels, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we will break any all-time records. Great Lakes ice usually peaks around this time of the year. Temperatures will remain bitterly cold and below average through the next week so it’s quite possible that the ice will continue to grow. However as we enter into March, longer days, higher sun angle and a better chance at warming usually slows ice production. That is unless we continue this below average pattern through next month and if long-range models pan-out we will carry this cold pattern all the way through the end of February.