Lake Erie is nearly completely covered in ice, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). More than 90 percent of the iconic lake is frozen, spiking up from about 60 percent ice coverage at the beginning of February.
It’s not unusual for Erie to be almost completely covered in ice, NOAA data shows, but this year’s ice is a huge jump from previous years. At this time in 2017, ice only covered 38 percent of the lake. The year before that only 1 percent was covered.
Lake Erie was close to freezing over in early January when a polar vortex brought freezing Arctic air down to the eastern U.S., sending energy prices through the roof in some parts of the country. But warmer air returned and reduced ice cover — until now.
Lake Erie is the most shallow of the Great Lakes, making it the most likely to freeze over in winter when cold Arctic comes. Lake Erie freezing also reduces lake effect snowfall. That’s good news for Americans and Canadians living along the lake, some of whom got buried in more than 4 feet of snow in late December.
In total, just over half the Great Lake’s water surface is covered in ice, according to NOAA. Lake Superior is more than 50 percent covered in ice and Lake Michigan’s ice cover is about 40 percent.
Ice covers about 65 percent of Lake Huron, but less than 20 percent of Lake Ontario. Total Great Lakes ice coverage is in line with the long-term average of 55 percent, according to NOAA.
Here’s a link to MODIS satellite images of ice conditions on Lake Erie.
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