|Check out this slideshow from Reuters|
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) firstname.lastname@example.org
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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|Sometimes in the winter, the hardest thing for a boat to do is make a dock; even if the course thru the ice is not much of a problem. A 1,000 footer weighs a lot and can brush aside a lot of loose ice as it goes thru the harbor. Moving all 1,013 feet up against a dock is another story. Loose ice, easy to go thru in open water, compresses as the vessel moves closer to the dock; a tug is often needed to not only break up the ice but also flush the ice away from the dock, leaving room for the boat to move up against the dock and tie up. If the ice is not cleared, the vessel does not make the dock. Here, after coming under the Lift Bridge and moving up the harbor, the Paul R. Tregurtha points her bow to the dock, allowing a deck hand to drop down to the dock to secure the bow. The rest of the boat slowly closes toward the dock, carefully, and often with the help of a tug, pushing the loose ice out of the way. You can see the tug at the far right, moving out of the way after breaking up the ice. That was at 1 pm on Sunday, January 11, 2015. After taking on fuel at Calumet, she then moved over to Midwest Energy to load her last cargo of coal of the season. She left at 4:56 the next morning with 66,000 tons of coal for Detroit Edison. Another trip here was planned but has apparently been canceled, making this her last and 41st visit this season. Last year, without a late start due to ice, the Tregurtha was here 49 times.|
|The American Integrity was the first of 6 vessels coming here for winter layup. She arrived this morning, January 7, 2015 around 11:30.|
Winter layup, Duluth Superior, January, 2015
|Port Terminal Berth 1||Edwin H. Gott||Canceled for Twin Ports||GLF/ Key Lakes|
|Port Terminal Berth 6||American Integrity||1/7/2015||American Steamship|
|Midwest Energy||Mesabi Miner||1/19/2015||Interlake Steamship|
|Fraser Shipyards||Kaye E. Barker||1/12/2015||Interlake Steamship|
|Fraser Shipyards||John G. Munson||due 1/20/2015||GLF/ Key Lakes|
|Enbridge Dock||Indiana Harbor||1/17/2015||American Steamship|
|The Federal Mattawa has been at anchor off the Duluth piers since May 19th. With all other salt water vessels at the start of the season, she was delayed by ice and a pilot shortage when the season first began. She arrived in Montreal at the beginning of the St. Lawrence Seaway system on April 21. She made it to Hamilton to discharge some cargo on April 26. She left there on May 7, likely delayed there by ice. She arrived in Thunder Bay anchorage on May 8 and finally arrived to the Duluth anchorage on May 19.
Several ships have joined her from time to time. They left and she stayed. Above, the Vancouverborg, is in front, then the Apollon, and the Federal Mattaway. Below still with the Apollon and below, she shines bright, alone in the sun and ice.
Why the delay? In part, this is still catching up from the delays caused by ice in the seaway. She is waiting for grain to arrive in port by train, and rail cars are in short supply. This is her 3rd trip to the Twin Ports. On her first trip, in August, 2007, she loaded bentonite and the second trip, in May, 2008, she loaded grain, as she will this trip whenever the grain arrives.
|We didn’t have a lot of ship traffic today (Memorial Day, May 26, 2014) but we had 2 salt water vessels sitting in the ice field just beyond the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge. In back, the Federal Mattawa has been at anchor for over a week. In front, the Apollon had been at anchor for sometime. Then last Friday evening, she came in from the anchorage to load durum wheat for Ravenna, Italy, a port on the north eastern coast of Italy, on the Adriatic Sea. They finished that and went back to the anchorage to wait for a pilot be become available, probably early this evening. We send a lot of wheat to Italy, and not surprisingly, it will eventually be used for pasta. The next time you are eating pasta in Italy, it might have come from Minnesota. The Apollon was built in 1996 as the Spring Laker. This is her 3rd trip to the Twin Ports. Last November, she was here to load bentonite. Her home port is in Athens, Greece where the ship’s officers live. The crew is from the Philippines.|
|Top, the Federal Mattawa waits in the ice to load grain. Likewise, just below her (in the picture) is the Greek owned Apollon (the officers are Greek; the crew is from the Philippines). The Vancouverborg, below them, is getting the hell out, with a cargo of beet pulp pellets for Greenore, Ireland, a deep water port on the Irish Sea. The port is privately owned, the town has a population of 898 people (in 2002) and it is famous for whiskey with the same name. There must be animals somewhere since beet pulp pellets are normally used for animal feed, and are not known to be an ingredient in whiskey. Click any picture to see the ice better or the Google Earth map which locates Greenore.|
|The John J. Boland departing today (May 17, 2014) is one happy result of the delayed start to the shipping season. The Boland came in for winter layup on January 12th, 2013 and has been sitting at Fraser Shipyards in Superior until today when she was called back into service to help with the backlog of cargo. She left under the Duluth Aerial Lift Bridge this afternoon, on her way to Silver Bay to load iron ore pellets for hungry steel mills on the lower lakes. She will discharge the pellets at the Cleveland Bulk Terminal at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River. Those pellets will be loaded into smaller, river boats and carried to steel mills up river.
The saltwater vessel Apollon sits at anchor just beyond the Lift Bridge surrounded by the ice that refuses to melt.
|Click on any picture to see a larger version|
|This is what I think, but don’t bet on it.
The Presque Isle left here on March 22th with a partial load of pellets and I think loaded pellets at Two Harbors and then tried to get to the other end of Lake Superior but had ice trouble and came back here for repairs, arriving on March 29th still with her pellets. Some of those pellets were off loaded into the American Spirit, which had not yet left Duluth. She offloaded pellets to make repairs easier.
The American Spirit left here on April 7th with pellets loaded from the Presque Isle. She went to Two Harbors to load pellets and then came back this morning (above) with both loads of pellets. To wait, I presume.
Two days later, on March 28th, the Alder arrived Duluth with an ice-wounded Morro Bay lashed to her side with the Katmai Bay leading them under the Lift Bridge.
Several days later, the Katmai Bay departed to return to ice breaking duties while the Morro Bay stayed here for repairs to her rudder. That happened early this week and she left but did not go very far away. The Katmai Bay returned to Duluth this morning, April 9th (above), and the Morro Bay was back at the DECC with the Katmai Bay by late this afternoon.
Meanwhile at the other end of the Lake, late this afternoon, the Canadian ice breaker Pierrre Radisson left the Soo leading a convoy of boats trying to get to Duluth (Click on the the map above). The Mackinaw was going to be with the convoy but as I write this, she was still at the Soo.
So here is my guess. When the convoy arrives here, perhaps on Thursday or Friday, we will have 5 ice breakers here, counting the Alder. All of a sudden, we will/may have a bunch of boats here to load cargo and then go back out to the lake, I would guess with the help of some of our flotilla of ice breakers. And presumably the American Spirit came back and is waiting to be a part of that convey.
|You can find the satellite images here: http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/index.html
Just click on MODIS Imagery; Great Lakes MODIS True Color; and then select the lake you want, such as Superior
|The US Coast Guard cutter Alder brought her sister ship, Morro Bay, into port last night with damage to her rudder. They docked at the DECC and this morning (March 29, 2014), divers from a local company, J. Norick & Sons, were there to assess the damage. Actually, the rudder itself was apparently not damaged, but all but one of the bolts holding it to the ship were broken off while breaking ice. Today, they were checking the damage. Probably later today, the ship will be towed to Fraser Shipyard to complete repairs. New, 2 inch bolts are being made locally and will probably be ready for use early next week. The Katmai Bay is also here; my guess is she will tow the Morro Bay to Fraser but I am not sure of that.|
|The US Coast Guard cutter Morro Bay left here a week ago and today (March 28, 2014), she was towed back to port by the Alder after sustaining damage to her rudder while breaking ice. Outside the Duluth piers, they lashed the Morro Bay to the side of the Alder for the trip through the ship canal. The Katmai Bay, also here a week ago, led them in to port. The Presque Isle is also coming back to Duluth to repair damage to her hull cause by the ice.|
|This video was taken March 10, 2014, and is a little less polished than others but I wanted to get it up quick.|
|Dan Rau took this picture on Wednesday (March 5, 2014), as the Alder was returning from a long day breaking ice. While following the path she opened on the way out, you can notice the ship has moved to the right so she can widen the original path for the next trip. (click pic to enlarge)|
|Note: this post is in chronological order, earliest pictures first|
|With help from the Great Lakes tug North Carolina, the CSL Tadoussac departed Duluth this morning (April 15, 2013) around 8:25.|
|Next, the North Carolina was off to help the Indiana Harbor.|
|A little later, the Birchglen arrived and slowly made her way under the Lift Bridge on her way to load coal at Midwest Energy Resources in Superior.|