Ice cover on Great Lakes at record low

(ABC 6 News) – The Great Lakes is experiencing record low ice cover thanks to a milder-than-average weather pattern this winter across the region.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), via the Great Lakes Ice Tracker, as of Feb. 14, only 7% of the Great Lakes have ice cover which is way below the historic average of 41% for the date and slightly below the previous low of 8.5% set in 2012. Great Lakes ice data goes back 51 years.

Lake Superior is also lacking ice this winter. According to the data, as of Feb. 14, just 5% of the lake has ice cover, well below the historic average of 41% for the date and close to the record low level set in 2012.

The region is nearing the average peak of ice season which usually occurs in mid-to-late March.

Also, the variability of maximum ice cover is increasing over time. This is the result of extreme weather patterns occurring closer together: big heat waves to big cold snaps leads to less ice and more ice which means one year could break records for low ice, and then the following year or year after could break records for maximum ice cover.

In the past month, air temperatures have been between 2°F and 8°F warmer than average across the Great Lakes, according to data from the Midwest Regional Climate Center.

To track the ice on the Great Lakes, CLICK HERE.