Feb 15, 2024 - Energy & Environment

"Lost winter": Great Lakes ice cover sets record-low for mid-February

Great Lakes ice cover, 1973-2024
Data: NOAA; Graphic: Rahul Mukherjee/Axios

Great Lakes ice cover is at a record low for mid-February, after starting out the same way early in the season.

The big picture: The absence of ice this winter coincides with record warm temperatures and a "lost winter" that residents of the Great Lakes states and Midwest have experienced.

  • According to NOAA, Lakes Erie and Ontario have lake ice that is tied with historic lows, while Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron (typically some of the coldest), are at record-low levels of ice.
  • The below average snow and ice and unusually mild conditions are likely tied to climate change and a more transient El Niño climate pattern.

Of note: Portions of the Great Lakes states are on their way to having their warmest winter seasons on record (meteorological winter ends at the end of February).

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