Lake Superior ice blown around by wind

Two days ago, an East wind drove a lot of Lake Superior ice to our end of the Lake (above). Yesterday and today, we have had very high winds out of the west. Above, on March 6 we see the result of the East Wind, with a lot of ice in front of Duluth. After two days of West wind, a lot of that ice went back to the Lake. The Duluth harbor, connected to Lake Superior by the Duluth ship canal, followed the pattern, as you would expect. Two days ago, the harbor was full of ice, now it is full of blue water.
Images from the NOAA – Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, with a nice animation of the events.


  1. Mackinaw just pulled out of St. Ignace and appears to be headed to the ship channel next to Sturgeon Bay. That’s 160 miles so if they speed up a little they’ll arrive about morning. We know that the St. Lawrence Seaway opens up in 8 days (March 20). So, things will pick up soon.

  2. Brent R. says:

    Mackinaw was in the lower St. Marys River yesterday evening. I don’t think the ice there is thicker than 4 inches. The ferries seem to be running and there is no ice visible in the Detroit River. There is ice in the Soo Locks and upper St. Marys. I think it is only around 6 inches in Whitefish Bay.

    I believe Mackinaw is supposed to break out the ship channel to Sturgeon bay and then all the way up to Escanaba on Monday. We may see more activity then although the Soo Locks still won’t open until March 25.

  3. Steve Carlson says:

    Kenneth: Why are the boats in Duluth turning on their GPS indicators? Are they just testing, etc or are they are preparing to ‘get out of Dodge’ earlier than expected because of the ice, or lack thereof?

  4. Good point Rita, but not always true. The other end of the lake, say in Whitefish Point, has the same problem we do, only in reverse. West winds blow the ice away from Duluth but toward Whitefish Point at the other end of the lake. Mother Nature always has the last word.

  5. Rita from Georgia says:

    Talk about the winds of change. I am always amazed what the wind can do. Since the prevailing winds are from the west, maybe they will stay from the west for a while till the boats get out of the harbor. That would make things a lot easier ice free. Looking forward to the start of a safe season.

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