Despite warm up, Great Lakes still have heavy ice

Lakes have highest ice concentration in decades

Even with warmer temps arriving, the Great Lakes still have heavy ice concentrations.

Late last week, nearly 90 percent of the lakes were covered in ice. Since then, the warm up has allowed for some recovery, but as of Tuesday afternoon ice concentrations still stood at just more than 81 percent.

It’s been two decades since ice coverage there was that high. It was 1994 when the maximum ice coverage was at 90.7 percent. The only year when lake water was more frozen was 1979, when it reached 94.7 percent.

Comparing this winter year to the last few winters, this is far and away the most ice these lakes have seen in five years.

-- Why so cold?

The country has been stuck in the same weather pattern all season. The jet stream has spent most of the winter farther south than usual, and for longer periods.

It’s the same reason the eastern half of the country has been so cold and snowy this winter while the western half of the country has been much warmer and drier.

This pattern won’t last forever. In fact, most of the Great Lakes region, as well as the rest of the country that’s been experiencing colder than normal temperatures, are showing warmer signs for at least a week or so.

But don’t get used to it.

Long-term forecasts show that by the end of the month, the Great Lakes region will see a return to the cold winter.

A gentle reminder, though, that Spring begins March 20.

Jason Meyers is a digital meteorologist and may be followed on twitter @jasonmeyerswx or via Storm Shield, @stormshieldapp.

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