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: 766351

Reported Deaths: 13965
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1052671804
Lake568691028
Allen42858698
St. Joseph37286568
Hamilton37260426
Elkhart29729470
Tippecanoe23441230
Vanderburgh23153404
Porter19568327
Johnson18807391
Hendricks18059321
Madison13518345
Clark13502198
Vigo12817255
LaPorte12558224
Monroe12529178
Delaware11124198
Howard10654237
Kosciusko9751123
Hancock8734149
Bartholomew8256157
Warrick8053157
Floyd8005181
Grant7349181
Wayne7234201
Boone7173105
Morgan6904142
Marshall6329116
Dubois6270118
Cass6085111
Dearborn600078
Noble597890
Henry5944111
Jackson515677
Shelby509897
Lawrence4914127
Gibson461596
Montgomery457592
Clinton454555
DeKalb453685
Harrison452476
Whitley415345
Huntington414081
Steuben410260
Miami405073
Jasper400455
Knox388091
Putnam384662
Wabash368783
Adams352256
Ripley351071
Jefferson341586
White339354
Daviess3089100
Wells302781
Greene292985
Decatur291693
Fayette285864
Posey280935
Scott278758
LaGrange277172
Clay273148
Washington253537
Randolph247583
Jennings238649
Spencer237931
Fountain234850
Starke229959
Owen222259
Sullivan219543
Fulton207845
Jay202832
Carroll197122
Orange190956
Perry189739
Vermillion180044
Rush177327
Tipton172347
Franklin171935
Parke154816
Pike141434
Blackford137832
Pulaski123648
Newton123036
Benton109615
Brown105943
Crawford105516
Martin92515
Warren87715
Switzerland8328
Union73510
Ohio58311
Unassigned0428

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1122647

Reported Deaths: 20467
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1302911493
Cuyahoga1171502259
Hamilton823481259
Montgomery534491059
Summit488581014
Lucas43734832
Butler39936614
Stark33800937
Lorain25996509
Warren24896312
Mahoning22685612
Lake21457396
Clermont20368260
Delaware19120138
Licking16842227
Trumbull16786491
Fairfield16762207
Medina15832276
Greene15499254
Clark14339308
Portage13417218
Wood13338201
Allen12043245
Richland11726213
Miami10998228
Wayne9251227
Columbiana9196236
Muskingum9119137
Pickaway8738123
Tuscarawas8714254
Marion8703140
Erie8126166
Ashtabula7272179
Hancock7044134
Ross7012165
Geauga6948153
Scioto6679108
Belmont6210179
Lawrence5917104
Union590449
Jefferson5723162
Huron5630122
Sandusky5482130
Darke5436130
Seneca5376128
Washington5362111
Athens526560
Auglaize507087
Mercer490685
Shelby481297
Knox4609112
Madison447266
Ashland443198
Defiance438499
Fulton435775
Putnam4351104
Crawford4110111
Brown409662
Preble3946107
Logan391679
Clinton389266
Ottawa375581
Highland365068
Williams356478
Champaign348360
Guernsey330254
Jackson321254
Perry298350
Morrow294643
Fayette288250
Hardin279165
Henry276967
Coshocton272561
Holmes2725102
Van Wert251665
Adams249258
Gallia249250
Pike244637
Wyandot235257
Hocking222663
Carroll201249
Paulding179442
Meigs151040
Noble137739
Monroe137545
Harrison115238
Morgan111524
Vinton87217
Unassigned03
Fort Wayne
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 69°
Angola
Partly Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 64°
Feels Like: 68°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 85° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 69°
Decatur
Partly Cloudy
69° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 69°
Van Wert
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 70°
It's a steamy Wednesday with scattered showers and thunderstorms arriving Wednesday night.
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