[caption id="attachment_78637" align="aligncenter" width="648"] The intense cold snap that gripped much of central Canada and the United States in early January 2014 brought thick and widespread ice to the Great Lakes. Though parts of the lakes freeze every winter, several news media and meteorologist accounts suggested that January ice cover was thicker and more widespread than it has been in nearly two decades. The ice cover was hampering ship traffic in the region, according to news reports.[/caption]
One of the coldest winters ever recorded has left Lake Erie almost totally frozen, with experts reporting that Erie now has 96 percent of its surface covered with ice. Erie has sustained the most damage from consistently sub-zero temperatures as well as massive amounts of lake-effect snow and is the most frozen of the five Great Lakes.
Lake Huron is now 71 percent ice covered, followed by Lake Superior at 69 percent, Lake Michigan almost half frozen at 46 percent ice cover, and Lake Ontario reporting icing over 26 percent of its water.
Scientists at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory say that although the Great Lakes sustaining some freezing over the winter months is not unusual, what is unusual for 2014 is the fact that ice coverage began so early in the winter season. With ice now covering almost 65 percent of the total Great Lakes region, this year's early icing is the 17th worst since 1974.
The year 1994 holds the record for the worst ice coverage of Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes, recording an almost 95 percent total coverage in ice that year. Meteorologists say ice conditions on the Great Lakes adversely affects local weather.
[caption id="attachment_78673" align="aligncenter" width="720"] NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Level 1 and Atmospheres Active Distribution System (LAADS). Caption by Michael Carlowicz.
On The Web:
Ice cover on Great Lakes surges to 62 percent: What that means for Michigan's weather
Frozen Lake Erie