Extremely low ice cover on the Great Lakes - WNEM TV 5

Extremely low ice cover on the Great Lakes

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Great Lakes Ice Cover as of 2/15/17 Great Lakes Ice Cover as of 2/15/17
Great Lakes Ice Cover 2016 Great Lakes Ice Cover 2016
Great Lakes Ice Cover 2015 Great Lakes Ice Cover 2015

A big warm-up is on the way for this weekend, and that won’t do much to help with the ice coverage on the Great Lakes. Right now only 8.9 percent are covered in ice.

The greatest or highest concentration of ice right now is near Saginaw Bay where you’ll see about 70-99 percent ice cover. The rest of the lakes see very little, if any ice.

One reason has been our mild winter, and also warmer water temperatures. As of Feb. 15 the average lake temperature was around 30-35 degrees in Lake Huron. Lake Michigan was warmer with water temps around 35-40 degrees.

Ice cover over the Great Lakes fluctuates greatly depending on how mild or harsh the winter has been. This time last year the Great Lakes had 27.5 percent ice cover. In contrast in 2015, which was a brutally colder winter, we saw 69.8 percent ice cover throughout the Great Lakes in February.

The average ice cover for the Great Lakes over the entire winter, and some of the spring seasons, is generally around 55 percent.

While we are not done with winter just yet this weekend will have us feeling more like spring rather than mid-February. Temperatures Saturday and Sunday are forecasted to be in the 50s! Nearly 20-25 degrees above average for this time of the year.

If you do plan to take advantage of Michigan’s Free Fishing weekend, Feb. 18-19, use caution. Not only will temperatures be warm, but it will also be sunny. So what little ice is out there will likely see melting.

With melting a good possibility and already low ice cover, the boat is a better bet than ice fishing this weekend. The Coast Guard is warning that the warmer temps pose a safety concern for those planning to be on or near the lakes.  So if you must go out, take the necessary safety precautions.

If you are hoping for some colder temps to help with ice you’re out of luck at least for the next 7 days. The forecast shows we are going to be seeing temps in the 40s and 50s through next Thursday.

Be safe and always wear your life jackets on the water. 

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