Great Lakes ice coverage skyrockets in four weeks during deep freeze

Posted at 7:41 AM, Jan 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-05 07:51:26-05

The deep freeze that has been pounding Michigan and much of the country has increased the ice coverage on the Great Lakes in just three weeks.

According National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Great Lakes Coast Watch Node, four of the five Great Lakes had zero percent ice coverage on Dec. 10, 2017. On top of that Lake St. Clair also had zero ice coverage.

Lake Superior was the only Great Lake that had ice coverage, coming in at only .92 percent. Lake Superior is the largest freshwater lake in the world, coming in at 31,700 square miles and a maximum depth of over 1,300 feet.

According to the NOAA, by Jan. 3, the ice coverage on the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair had increased immensely.

The percentages are:

  • Lake Superior - 9.15 percent
  • Lake Michigan - 21.31 percent
  • Lake Huron - 33.52 percent
  • Lake Erie - 46.78 percent
  • Lake Ontario - 23.85 percent
  • Lake St. Clair - 98.64 percent

All of those totals mean that 22.65 percent of the Great Lakes became ice covered in less than 4 weeks, when there was just a .34 percent total coverage on Dec. 10.

When you compare that to the average ice coverage at this time, it's more than double. Check out the charts below.

The temperatures in the lakes have also fallen from Dec. 10 to Jan. 3. The red line shows the 2018 ice coverage while the blue is the average from 1973-2017.

According to the NOAA, Lake Superior fell from 4.33 degrees Celsius to 2.66 degrees; Lake Michigan from 6.47 degrees Celsius to 3.07; Lake Huron from 5.93 degrees Celsius to 2.45; Lake Erie from 6.86 degrees Celsius to 1.02 and Lake Ontario from 6.42 degrees Celsius to 3.04.

Lake St. Clair also fell from 4.74 degrees Celsius to just .21 degrees.

The deep freeze in metro Detroit is expected to continue for a couple of more days, and wind chills Friday morning were expected to be between -20 and -30 degrees Fahrenheit. A warm up is expected by Sunday with high temperatures climbing to around 27.