The satellite picture above was taken on Sat. March 9 – the day of maximum ice extent. Saturday, the Great Lakes peaked at 80.87% ice cover. According to the records I have, that’s the 9th highest extent in the 47-year satellite record. Three of the nine highest ice extents have occurred in the last six years.
The greatest ice extent was on Feb. 19, 1979 at 94.7%. The lowest maximum was on March 7, 2002 at 11.9%. The average maximum extent is 55%. The Great Lakes have exceeded that average in four of the last six winters. After a period of strong winds over the weekend, ice extent on othe Great Lakes dropped to 65.13% on Monday.
High ice extent lowers evaporation over the lakes and can contribute to higher water levels.
Here’s the maximum ice extent and corresponding date on the individual Great Lakes:
Maximum ice extent on Lake Superior occurred Saturday March 9, 2019 at 94.65%. This is a MODIS satellite picture from that day. There are some thin high clouds coming in, but you can see the large ice extent on the lake. Marquette was 5.1° colder than average in February along with 89.9″ of snow (season total up to 212″). With Lake Superior essentially frozen over, that shuts off much of the lake-effect snow, lake effect clouds and lake-effect warming. For March 1-10, Marquette has had only 7.2″ of snow and they have been 13.2° colder than average.
Here’s Lake Michigan – more open water than not…The Chicago area is snow free except for the piles. There will be a lot of snowmelt this week. Lake Michigan ice extent peaked on Friday, March 8 at 55.83%.
Lake Huron ice extent peaked Saturday, March 9, 2019 at 95.70%. You can see the snow-covered thick ice in Saginaw Bay and the North Channel.
Here’s a Lake Erie satellite picture. Lake Erie ice peaked at 93.30% on March 1. You can see the long, large cracks in the ice. Lake St. Clair peaked at 100% from Jan. 30 – Feb. 12.
Lake Ontario ice extent peaked at 39.82% on March 1. In this image, you can see the open water in the deep Finger Lakes and in the Niagara River. Does the east end of Lake Ontario look a little like a black cat’s head to you?
Lake ice should decrease with time, but there’s a lot of ice out there and some pretty good side icebergs, especially in Lake Superior…and that will take a long time to completely melt.
Also – deer on the roof (lots of snow!).