Great Lakes Ice Cover, Water Levels and News

Bill's Blog

The Great Lakes have a 1.1% ice cover – that’s not much, but keep in mind there usually isn’t much ice on the Great Lakes in December. Last year on 12/25, the Great Lakes had a 2.13% ice cover (after a cool November) and in 2018 it was 1.56%.

Great Lakes satellite pic. from Christmas Day 12/25/20

This is the MODIS satellite pic. from Christmas Day. Much of the Great Lakes had cloud cover, inc. Lower Michigan. Much of SE Wisconsin and N. Illinois were sunny. You can see the lake-effect clouds forming over Lake Michigan and moving east over Lower Michigan. Most of the lakes (inc. Lake Gogebic) in the western U.P. are now ice covered.

Chicago on Christmas morning 12 25 20

This was downtown Chicago (from the water intake about 2.75 miles east of downtown) at 9 am Christmas morning. Note the clear skies on the other side of Lake Michigan. Despite the sun – it was cold. The water intake had a high temp. of 21.6° Christmas Day and a low temp. of 14.0°. The water temp. of (inland) Reeds Lake is 36° (early AM on 12/26).

The water level of Lake Superior is down 3″ in the last month and down 3″ in the last year. The lake is 8″ above the December average, but is now 8″ below the highest ever December level set in 1985.

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is also down 3″ in the last month. It’s also down 4″ in the last year (nice to see that year-to-year drop). The level is still 30″ (2 1/2 feet) higher than the average December water level, but it’s also 6″ below the highest December level reached in 1986.

The level of Lake Erie is down 1″ in the last month and down 2″ in the last year. The lake is 24″ above the December average level, but it’s also 10″ lower than the highest December level set in 1986.

The level of Lake Ontario is unchanged in the last month, but it’s down 16″ in the last year. The lake is only 2″ above the December average level and it’s now 2 feet (24″) below the highest December level reached in 1945.

The level of Lake St. Clair (technically not a Great Lake – kind of like Pluto isn’t technically a planet anymore) is down 3″ in the last month and down 3″ year-to year. The lake is 26″ higher than December average level, but it’s also 8″ below the highest December level reached in 1986.

Alpena – Thunder Bay River – Christmas Day 10 am 2020

The pic. above is Alpena at 10 am Christmas morning. It’s snowing lightly. Note the ice forming in the river with temps. in the low 20s.

The Grand River at Grand Rapids has a flow of 3,410 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 2,900 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 2,300 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,739 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 835 cfs, compared to an average flow of 824 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 2,450 cfs, compared to an average flow of 3,020 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 3,480 cfs, compared to an average flow of 3,300 cfs. The Fox River at Appleton WI has a flow of 3,520 cfs, compared to an average flow of 3,410 cfs.

The rivers that connect the Great Lakes continue to have well above average flow. The St. Marys River at S. Ste. Marie has a flow of 101,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 74,000 cfs. The St. Clair River at Port Huron has a flow of 232,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 179,000 cfs.

GREAT LAKES NEWS: Photographing Great Lakes shipwrecks. Great Lakes National Parks in winter. Where’s the northern pike? Skating on a frozen canal in the U.P. Diving for garbage. New lake trout bag limit for Lake Michigan effective Jan. 1, 2021. Research successfully removes invasive quagga mussels from Lake Michigan. Protecting the Lake Michigan shoreline. Work begins on the new Soo locks. List of clean marinas. Arctic grayling returning to Michigan waters. Research successfully removes invasive quagga mussels from Lake Michigan. Northern Michigan lakes algae in 2020. The amazing salt mine under Lake Erie. Isle Royale – among National Geographic’s Best Places for 2021.

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