Great Lakes ice cover is scarce right now. What does it mean for the rest of winter? TomNiziol has the perspective:
You have to squint to find ice cover in the Great Lakes. We explain why that's important. - Articles from The Weather Channel | weather.com
Winter StormGreat Lakes Ice Cover Is Scarce Right Now. What Does It Mean For the Rest of Winter?ByTom Niziolless than an hour agoThis visible satellite image on Jan. 13, 2021, shows parts of the ice-free Great Lakes that are unobscured by cloud cover.
(NOAA/CIRA/RAMMB)At a GlanceOnly a few small parts of the Great Lakes are ice covered right now.Ice cover usually ramps up this time of year, but won't happen in the near future.The lack of ice cover could have two main impacts through spring.About halfway through January there is still precious little ice cover on the Great Lakes, and that could have significant impacts on the rest of winter and spring.
At a time when the Great Lakes historically sees the greatest gains in ice cover, this season has yet to get on the ice-making train.Only 2.1% of the Great Lakes are covered by ice, behind the average-to-date of about 12%, according to an analysis from NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory. headtopics.com
Last year's ice cover was also behind at this point, but there was about 5% ice cover then.Weekly Great Lakes ice coverage (blue bars) compared to the 1980-2009 average (green line) as of Jan. 12, 2021. Ice coverage was below average for the second week of January.
(Environment Canada)Currently, ice is only in shallower bays – in parts of Green Bay and Saginaw Bay – as well as in a few nearshore areas along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin and Michigan's Upper Peninsula.An analysis of Great Lakes ice cover (in shades of gray) and water temperature where ice is not present on Jan. 12, 2021. Only parts of Green Bay, Saginaw Bay, and nearshore areas along the Lake Superior shoreline in Wisconsin and Upper Michigan had ice cover.
(NOAA/GLERL)Ice cover on the Great Lakes is most directly linked to temperature. If it’s warm, ice won't form.Temperature departures for Great Lakes locations since Dec. 1 have been, according to the Southeast Regional Climate Center.The warm weather has also contributed to a snowfall deficit in the region.
Marquette, Michigan, one of the snowiest place in the U.S., is running a snowfall deficit nearing 3 feet.Much of that has to due to the lack of lake-effect snow, which needs to have cold air moving over the lakes to develop.Other Great Lakes locations are showing the same lack of snow. headtopics.com
AdvertisementMarquette, Buffalo and Erie, all snowfall giants, have received a half inch of snow or less so far in January, typically the snowiest month for these locations.Season-to-date snowfall (blue bars), average-to-date (gray bars) and seasonal snowfall deficits (red bars) for five Great Lakes snowbelt cities. From left to right, Marquette, Michigan; Grand Rapids, Michigan; Erie, Pennsylvania; Buffalo, New York; and Syracuse, New York.
(Data: NOAA/NWS)The short-term outlook doesn't look promising for significant ice cover growth. The latest 6-10 day NOAA temperature outlook shows above-average temperatures across the Great Lakes region.This medium-range temperature outlook from NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issued on Jan. 12, 2021, called for warmer-than-average temperatures over the Great Lakes.
(Forecast: NOAA/CPC)Potential Impacts Through SpringWhat does all of this mean for Great Lakes residents?A lack of ice cover means more open water to release heat and moisture into any cold air that passes over the lakes. That could lead to an increased chance for lake-effect snow later in the season on lakes such as Erie that typically ice over by early February.
But you can have relatively warm open water as a source for the moisture to produce the snow, but if cold air masses don't move over that warm, ice-free water, you won’t get snow.Another concern is shore protection. A stable, well-established build-up of ice protects the shore from erosion during winter storms. Without it, lakeshore properties are more vulnerable. headtopics.com
Still capture of drone video showing significant erosion along the Lake Michigan shore in Stevensville, Michigan, in early February 2020.(Cody Krieger/Kreeeg Media)last year’s record or near-record levels.However, they are all above average for this time of the year. Lake Erie and the Lake Michigan-Huron complex are over 2 feet above average.
The combination of less ice cover to protect shorelines and higher water levels increases the potential for water and wave damage if storms with strong winds impact the region.The Weather Company’s primary journalistic mission is to report on breaking weather news, the environment and the importance of science to our lives. This story does not necessarily represent the position of our parent company, IBM.
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