Where's the ice? Warmer winter leads to less ice cover on Lake Michigan

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Friday, January 31, 2020
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A warmer winter has led to much less ice cover thus far on Lake Michigan.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Ice on Lake Michigan is typically a familiar sight this time of year, but it hasn't felt like a typical winter here in Chicago.

January is running 6 degrees above average. December also was warmer than average by over 6 degrees, Meteorologist Larry Mowry said.

This mild winter weather has extended across the entire Great Lakes region. This has had a huge impact on the amount of ice on the Great Lakes.

All of the lakes are experiencing far less ice cover than last year.

Lake Michigan is only 7% covered in ice, with almost all of that ice located near Green Bay and Mackinaw City. Last year Lake Michigan at this time was 36% covered in ice.

Superior is at only 1% ice coverage, last year 43%.

Huron is at 15% ice coverage, last year 46%.


Ontario has less than 1% ice coverage. Last year it was at 17%.

Erie has also less than 1% ice coverage, last year it was 78% ice covered.

Less ice on the Great Lakes in theory should lead to more evaporation. But the greatest evaporation of water occurs when there is very cold, dry air over the relatively warm waters of the lake. When temperatures are mild and the air is relatively saturated, there is actually less evaporation.