Ice Coverage Grows On Great Lakes

Posted at 5:50 PM, Jan 11, 2014
and last updated 2014-01-11 17:50:56-05

WEST MICHIGAN — It’s no secret that around and across the Great Lakes in the winter we see ice. What is unusual this time is how quick the coverage has increased over the past ten days or so with the Arctic blast we had.

While it’s difficult this time of year to get a clear image of any of the Great Lakes due to lake-effect clouds and precipitation, we have a few high-resolution images that do show some of the ice coverage from space across portions of the lakes. Take a look at the image below of the ice coverage across lake Michigan and Lake Superior. In short, the addition of more color to the map on the right means more ice coverage. The snapshot on the left is from January 1, 2014. The snapshot on the right is from January 10, 2014. Pay particular attention to the ice concentration across western Lake Superior and western Lake Michigan. In fact,  Lake Superior went from 14 percent ice cover on January 1 to 37 percent ice cover on January 10. Lake Michigan went from 19 percent ice cover on January 1 to 36 percent ice cover now.

Ice Coverage

Lake Huron went from 32 percent ice to 46 percent ice coverage in the same time frame, while Lake Erie had 25 percent ice cover on January 1 and is now 87 percent covered in ice. It’s common for Lake Erie, it usually freezes over completely since it’s so shallow. Take a look at the updated snapshot for Saturday, January 11, 2014 of Lake Michigan below.


Notice also how all of the “Door” County peninsula around Green Bay, Wisconsin has completely iced over. The images are from the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. Below you’ll find the same map for Lake Superior dated January 11.


Below is the ice coverage snapshot for Lake Huron dated January 11, 2014.


Below is the ice coverage snapshot for Lake Erie dated January 11, 2014.


Below you’ll find the high-resolution satellite image of Lake Michigan taken January 8, 2014. Note the ice on the opposite side of the lake (along the Wisconsin and Illinois shoreline. Unfortunately, mid-lake and eastward is shrouded by lake clouds. The image is from NOAA Great Lakes CoastWatch.

LM High Res

Another high-resolution satellite image (this time) of Lake Erie can be found below. Notice almost the entire lake is frozen over.

LE High Res

Perhaps we’ll get some clearer images on Sunday as we are expecting to see some sunshine, less cloud cover, and perhaps more lake ice. Don’t get use to the warmer temperatures, sharply colder air comes in by weeks end along with a few chances for accumulating snow.

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