Great Lakes ice coverage (Update 3-5) - Tucson News Now

Great Lakes ice coverage (Update 3-5)

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Sections of the lakes, which hold nearly one-fifth of the freshwater on the world's surface, harden almost every winter. But this year it is not just sections of the lakes. The five Great Lakes combined reached their top ice amount at 91 percent back on March 4th. This is up from the previous peak back on February 8th of 88%. A mid February thaw allowed the ice on the lakes to recede to 62% before another arctic blast moved in.

The lakes, which hold nearly one-fifth of the freshwater on the world's surface, harden almost every winter. But this year's 91% is the most seen in 35 years when the lakes were roughly 94% iced. This is an abrupt turn around from the past few winters, during which the peak ice coverage remained around 40 percent or less. The average of the lakes is roughly 51%.

On the 4th of March, when looking at individual lakes, 96 percent of Lake Superior, 97 percent of Lake Huron, 98 percent of Lake Erie, and 92 percent of Lake Michigan was ice covered. The deeper Lake Ontario was only about 42 percent ice covered. There is speculation that Lake Superior can reach a freeze-over for the first time in 18 years.

The Great Lakes could reach there record ice extend if this latest cold spell lasts into early spring. Dating to when records began, 1973, only one year had a higher ice coverage, and that was back in 1979 (94.7 percent peak).

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