Great Lakes ice cover more than twice normal

Lake Michigan at Holland from above. (Courtesy Herb R. Harney via ReportIt - Jan. 29, 2014)
Lake Michigan at Holland from above. (Courtesy Herb R. Harney via ReportIt - Jan. 29, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — An overall cold winter and two stretches of significant bitter cold have caused more ice to form on the Great Lakes than any year since the winter of 1993-94.

Michigan as seen from space. (Courtesy NASA - Jan. 29, 2014)

Michigan as seen from space. (Courtesy NASA – Jan. 29, 2014)

The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory says Lake Michigan is 45.2% covered by ice, Lake Superior is 66.9% covered and Lake Huron is 68.5% covered.

As a whole, the Great Lakes are 61% covered with ice — more than twice the normal 27% for the end of January.

The increased ice has a number of effects on our weather in West Michigan. More lake ice impedes the lake effect process — cold air gathers moisture from the open water and produces downwind clouds and snow. With less open water fetch (the distance cold air travels across the lake), there is less opportunity for lake effect clouds and snow generation.

Also, more ice means less warming influence from the lake, so cold blasts common across the lake in Wisconsin can happen here.

Long range weather outlooks call for a cold first half of February which means increased lake ice is likely.

Lake Michigan, five miles out from the Holland area. (Courtesy Herb R. Harney via ReportIt - Jan. 29, 2014)

Lake Michigan, five miles out from the Holland area. (Courtesy Herb R. Harney via ReportIt – Jan. 29, 2014)

Lake Michigan, four miles out from Port Sheldon. (Courtesy Herb R. Harney via ReportIt - Jan. 29, 2014)

Lake Michigan, four miles out from Port Sheldon. (Courtesy Herb R. Harney via ReportIt – Jan. 29, 2014)

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