Great Lakes Days Away From Record Ice Cover

Long cold spell excellent for lakes' health
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 4, 2014 3:15 AM CST
Great Lakes Days Away From Record Ice Cover
A convoy of Great Lakes cargo ships line up to follow an icebreaker on the St. Marys River, which links Lakes Superior and Huron.    (AP Photo/Lt. David Lieberman)

This long, cold winter has created the most ice cover on the Great Lakes in 20 years—and with ice cover usually at its peak in mid-March, there's still time for records to be broken. Lake Superior is now more than 90% covered by ice, reports NBC, and with temperatures set to plummet yet again in the days to come, forecasters believe the 1979 record of 95% ice cover across all the Great Lakes could fall by the weekend. Lakes Michigan, Erie, and Huron are all virtually frozen over and ice is starting to cover Lake Ontario, the slowest to freeze, reports MLive, which notes that there have been reports of even parts of Niagara Falls starting to freeze.

While many people in the region have had quite enough of winter, the continued cold is excellent news for the lakes because it will help replenish water levels, a hydrologist with the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab says. "By next fall, water temperatures will be cooler and the evaporation rates next fall will be less than they have in the past. That's the key connection. Water levels should rise a bit," he explains to WSBT. The cold weather will also make life harder this spring for invasive species like the Asian stink bug. (Thanks to all the ice, it's possible to walk to Apostle Island Ice Caves on Lake Superior for the first time in five years.)

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