FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — It’s been a fairly mild winter until recently.
Just a little over a week ago, ice coverage across the Great Lakes was at a record low.
The average ice cover for the lakes in January 2021 was 4.4% which was behind the record of 4.08% set in January 2002.
Both Lake Superior and Lake Michigan recorded near-record low ice cover for the month.
We have turned the page to February and ice is finally beginning to form across the Great Lakes.
With the recent cold, the ice cover has increased from 3.9% reported on January 20, 2021 to 11.5% on February 3, 2021.
Ice coverage is nearing average for this time of the year and the cold is expected to last well into the middle of February.
The frigid temperatures in the coming weeks will help the lakes to freeze over.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the ice cover is expected to be at 30% in late February which could be the peak for the season.
Historically, ice coverage usually reaches 30% across the Great Lake by the end of January and it peaks at about 42% in late February.
According to NOAA, the average maximum ice coverage is 53.3% and below is a list of predicted maximum ice coverage for the 2021 season.
- Lake Superior – 31% (Normal average is 61.5%)
- Lake Michigan – 22% (Normal average is 40%)
- Lake Huron – 41% (Normal average is 64.6%)
- Lake Ontario – 7% (Normal average is 29.8%)
- Lake Erie – 58% (Normal average is 81.2%)
According to NOAA, these predictions can change since they are based upon the latest surface-air temperature data.
Regardless, below average ice cover is expected for the 2021 season which means more clouds and more lake effect snow chances.
Believe it or not, this is a similar pattern to this time in 2020.
Lake Erie, which is the shallowest lake, is usually frozen over by now but water temperatures are running in the low to mid 30s and it is only 13.2% frozen.
Lake Michigan is averaging a water temperature of 40 degrees and it is only 12.9% ice covered.
The ice thickness has increased from Escanaba to Green Bay and also shallow areas along the shoreline.
Ice coverage will increase in the coming days as some of the coldest air of the season spills in over the weekend.
This will park highs in the single digits and teens over the next few days which will help to cool water temperatures and aid in ice formation.