from Petoskeynews.com (Petoskey is a town on the north east shore of Lake Michigan)
Posted: Monday, March 16, 2015 1:19 pm
Mark Johnson (989) email@example.com
NORTHERN MICHIGAN — It appears spring is finally here and with the end to another brutal winter comes the end of another year of extensive Great Lakes ice coverage.
According to George Leshkevich, physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, total Great Lakes ice coverage peaked Feb. 28 at approximately 88.7 percent combined among the five lakes.
Though some of the lakes — Erie, Huron and Superior — approached almost complete ice cover, the total of 88.7 percent fell short of the ice coverage mark set last year on March 6, and approximately 6 percent short of the record set in 1979 at 94.7 percent.
“The way things are going now, we are looking at an earlier breakup and an earlier ice-off date (compared to 2014),” Leshkevich said. “Last year was extreme.”
According to statistics compiled by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, out of all of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie reached the highest ice coverage percent at 98.09 percent on Feb. 18.
Lake Ontario also experienced its peak ice coverage Feb. 18, when 82.6 percent of the lake was covered in ice.
Coming in at No. 2 for highest total ice coverage was Lake Huron, recording an ice coverage of 96.28 percent on March 6.
Lakes Superior and Michigan both reached their maximum ice coverage Feb. 28, with Lake Michigan recording 72.8 percent ice coverage and Lake Superior 95.5 percent.
Since reaching those numbers, warmer temperatures and larger amounts of sunlight among other factors have began to break up the large quantities of ice.
“It is going down now,” Leshkevich said in regard to the melting ice. “Even if we get another cold snap, it would have to be really cold for really long to turn things around.”
Leshkevich said the ice coverage patterns this year are about normal, as the lower Great Lakes — Erie and Ontario — typically reach maximum ice coverage between the middle and end of February, while the upper Great Lakes — Michigan, Superior and Huron — usually reach peak ice coverage sometime during the first half of March.
Unless there is another cold spell, the ice cover should continue to melt as spring approaches, unlike 2014 when Leshkevich said some amount of ice cover remained on Lake Superior until June 6.
But with the unpredictable Michigan weather patterns, Leshkevich said anything is possible.
“Things could still turn around,” he said. “Cold weather could prolong (the ice cover).”
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