Weather Blog: Warm winter leads to little ice cover on Great Lakes

Great Lakes

Typically during January is when the Great Lakes rapidly gain ice cover but that still hasn’t happened.

Posted: Jan 21, 2021 1:40 PM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) — Temperatures have been warmer this winter season and that has had a direct impact on the amount of ice across the Great Lakes.

We are halfway through January and there is still very little ice cover.

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Typically this is the time of the year when the Great Lakes rapidly gains ice cover.

But, according to NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, as of January 20, 2021 the total ice cover across the lakes is only at 3.9%.

By this time, the total ice coverage should be at about 19%.

Last year at this time, the ice cover was behind with 11.3% ice cover.

Ice has only formed in shallow spots such as parts of Saginaw Bay, Green Bay, northern Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

The ice thickness is only a few inches in most spots except for northern parts of Lake Superior where ice thickness is between one to two feet.

Of course, the ice coverage is directly linked to temperatures.

So far this season, there have been few cold spells and nothing lasting longer than a few days.

On top of that, warmer weather has resulted in a snowfall deficit in the region. 

In areas that typically see lake effect snow, it has been nearly non-existent.

Locally we’ve had a few rounds of lake effect snow this season but it hasn’t amounted to much.

Lake effect snow happens when cold air, usually from Canada, blows over a warm body of water.

The air rises and clouds form, which then produces narrow bands of snow.

Places known for lake effect snow such as Buffalo, New York is at a seasonal snowfall deficit of 15 inches.

Marquette, Michigan is at a deficit of 32” and Grand Rapids, Michigan is at a deficit of nearly 34”.

So, why does anyone care about the amount of ice on the lakes and the lack of lake effect snow.

Snowfall helps with drought conditions and if we start spring with a large deficit, it could hurt the agricultural industry.

Trees and other plants count on snow cover for nourishment during the harsh winter months.

If trees don’t get the nourishment that is needed, they will become weak and that could lead to more downed trees during the severe weather season.

Water levels on the Great Lakes are well above average leading to beach erosion.

With less ice, the potential for a strong system with gusty winds could cause damage to the shorelines of the lakes.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, the long range temperature outlook for late January into early February shows above-average temperatures for the Great Lakes.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 661673

Reported Deaths: 12573
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion906391639
Lake48389876
Allen35806635
Hamilton32056396
St. Joseph29947512
Elkhart25376414
Vanderburgh21245378
Tippecanoe20000201
Johnson16336359
Porter15957270
Hendricks15813300
Clark11946181
Madison11741316
Vigo11595229
Monroe10328161
Delaware9836179
LaPorte9761196
Howard9055197
Kosciusko8561109
Bartholomew7448147
Warrick7412150
Hancock7404131
Floyd7200169
Wayne6631191
Grant6424157
Morgan6084125
Boone608288
Dubois5903111
Dearborn547067
Cass544399
Marshall5423104
Henry542093
Noble509078
Jackson464566
Shelby460290
Lawrence4180112
Gibson401281
Harrison399663
Clinton395453
Montgomery386783
DeKalb385178
Knox357285
Miami357263
Whitley349136
Huntington343976
Steuben338155
Wabash331176
Putnam329759
Ripley327061
Adams323149
Jasper315943
White297352
Jefferson294873
Daviess285396
Fayette271556
Decatur270888
Greene261280
Posey260831
Wells258274
Scott250350
Clay241044
LaGrange240870
Randolph225576
Spencer217130
Jennings215044
Washington211027
Sullivan203239
Fountain201442
Starke188051
Owen182153
Fulton178237
Jay177728
Carroll176518
Perry173235
Orange171250
Rush164722
Vermillion160442
Franklin159435
Tipton146341
Parke139216
Pike127632
Blackford120627
Pulaski106444
Newton96531
Brown94939
Benton91913
Crawford90613
Martin80114
Warren75814
Switzerland7537
Union67110
Ohio53311
Unassigned0431

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 967422

Reported Deaths: 17297
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1118511208
Cuyahoga954841746
Hamilton73202970
Montgomery47226889
Summit40110957
Butler35435471
Lucas35217765
Stark29301840
Warren22361276
Lorain21952389
Mahoning19402543
Lake18358305
Clermont18327211
Delaware16415135
Licking14939200
Fairfield14491159
Trumbull14283462
Greene13548213
Medina13347219
Clark12223336
Wood11492193
Portage10982160
Allen10762235
Richland10250206
Miami10006190
Muskingum8153130
Columbiana8103182
Pickaway8033101
Tuscarawas8016236
Marion7979137
Wayne7848219
Erie6858184
Ross6123136
Geauga6051128
Hancock5979112
Ashtabula5937145
Scioto5920104
Lawrence523174
Union511252
Darke5025124
Belmont490989
Huron4781117
Jefferson4781108
Sandusky475996
Seneca4652103
Athens463133
Washington460587
Mercer4581101
Auglaize455099
Shelby440769
Knox401186
Putnam3984101
Madison391447
Ashland378495
Fulton377964
Defiance3711102
Brown369042
Crawford356696
Logan353259
Preble352571
Clinton339964
Highland327356
Ottawa322767
Williams301878
Jackson289256
Champaign285846
Guernsey285834
Fayette267844
Perry267543
Morrow259125
Henry245565
Hardin243957
Holmes2430104
Coshocton234547
Van Wert228849
Gallia221346
Adams215532
Pike214928
Wyandot209153
Hocking193549
Carroll180328
Paulding159723
Meigs134837
Noble128542
Monroe116136
Morgan100534
Harrison100432
Vinton76615
Unassigned00
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