Great Lakes Ice Cover Nearing 1979 Record

(WLNS) – The Great Lakes are close to setting a great record. That’s because on average, they’re 85 percent frozen.

“We’re really close to setting a record this year for ice cover, so that would be really exciting and fun,” said Randy Schaetzl, MSU Department of Geography.

The record was set in 1979, with a 94 percent ice cover. With continued cold weather, we could break that.

Now let’s take a look at some of these percentages. Here with Lake Michigan we’re at 66 percent frozen. Move up to Lake Superior, that’s at 95 percent. Now over here, Lake Huron is at 94 percent. Over here Lake Ontario, is 60 percent frozen. And finally Lake Erie is at 95 percent. Now the freeze can prevent erosion on the shores, as well as evaporation from the lakes.

That’s one of the main reasons our lakes are back again above normal after many, many years of below normal weather.

But how can a frozen Lake Michigan, more than 140 miles from Lansing, affect weather here?

“If Lake Michigan goes completely frozen over, we have no lake effect. There’s no moisture for the cold air to work with and then pick up and bring onshore,” said Jim Geyer, 6 News Meteorologist.

6 News Meteorologist Jim Geyer explains it means not as much snow for us here in the Lansing area, but it could also mean colder weather.

The lake normally modifies air coming in on a northwesterly wind. But if the lake completely freezes over, it can’t warm the air

“So if it’s below zero in Wisconsin, chances are that air is headed our way too.”

It looks like we’re on thin ice when it comes to avoiding more cold weather.

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