This winter the Great Lakes experienced near record ice coverage. In March 2014 NOAA reported 92.2% of the Great Lakes were frozen. A record only surpassed in 1979 with over 94% total ice coverage. This deep freeze over the Great lakes was viewed warmly as ice tends to prevent evaporation of the lakes and provide recovery for lake levels during the spring thaw. The coverage also ment that most of Michigan experienced a very sunny, albeit cold winter. All of the Great Lakes experienced record low water levels in early 2014. Matching levels 50 years ago in 1964.
Effects of Cold Winter Linger
This week Environment Canada posted a report showing lake ice still at an amazing 37% coverage. The coverage is primarily occurring on Lake Superior. Below normal temperatures and ongoing snow fall is still occurring regularly the UP of Michigan. It’s estimated that most of the Great lakes will not be totally ice-free until mid May.
The ice has impacted harbor towns across the Great Lakes. Marquette Michigan’s newspaper Mining Journal reported that Marquette harbor is open – roughly two weeks later than normal. Ice breakers provided by the U.S. Coast Guard had to escort two freighters into the harbor this week. One freighter, The Barker delivered coal to the Presque Isle power plant. The delay in the shipping season forced We Energies to acquire reserve coal stock from Marquette Board of Light and Power.
In Michigan’s Thumb, the long winter season has delayed work at Port Austin harbor.