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Another warm winter causing near record low ice coverage

Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 8:32 PM CST
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DULUTH, MN. (KBJR) - Even though temperatures have been below freezing for weeks, ice coverage on Lake Superior is at a near-historic low.

We are still early in the winter season, but experts believe it will be another warm one affecting ice formation in the coming months.

“Last year was much warmer, but this year is still warm,” said Dr. Jia Wang.

Dr. Wang is an ice climatologist and works for the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab. He said water temperatures are about two to three degrees warmer than average Fahrenheit. This makes it challenging for water to convert to ice since water is denser.

Dr. Wang explains how previous seasons can play a role.

“Because of the lasting impact from last year’s low ice cover and trying to be warmer surface water temperature, the warmer summer temps extend all the way until now,” said Dr. Wang.

As of Thursday, January 13th, 2022, 7 percent of Lake Superior has surface ice, and while that’s below average, it is above last year’s 2 percent coverage.

For Jarrid Houston, owner of Houston’s Guide Service, the lack of ice can have an impact on his business. His first fishing tours are this weekend and he said that’s later than normal.

“We are doing guide trips around New Year’s, so I mean in essence we are lacking behind only a couple of weeks.”

While we are well below normal for ice coverage, experts say there is still hope more of Lake Superior will freeze over in the coming months.

According to NOAA, the peak ice coverage for Lake Superior is in late February and into early March.

Experts forecast the maximum ice coverage for Lake Superior will be around 64 percent, which would be higher than last year. That percentage could increase as the season continues.

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