Lake Superior ice cover on pace for lowest in 8 years

The big lake had six times more ice last year

Duluth ship canal
Duluth ship canal
Couresty of Lake Superior Maritime Museum

There’s plenty of open water on Lake Superior this winter.

Analysis of ice cover on Lake Superior shows the big lake is only about 11 percent ice-covered as of Feb. 11. Compare that to last year when the lake was 72 percent covered at this time.

Lake Superior ice cover
Lake Superior ice cover
Duluth National Weather Service

The entire Great Lakes system shows just 13.6 percent ice cover Tuesday.

Great Lakes ice cover
Great Lakes ice cover
NOAA/GLERL

Superior: Lowest in eight years

Ice cover on Lake Superior typically peaks in early March. It remains to be seen how much ice will be added before then. The cold shot this week could add some ice. But temperature patterns into late February do not appear to favor significant ice increases.

NOAA 8 to 14-day temperature outlook
NOAA 8 to 14-day temperature outlook
NOAA

Tuesday’s 11.9 percent of ice cover on Lake Superior appears to be on pace for the lowest ice cover maximum in eight years. The last time the maximum ice cover extent on Lake Superior was under 10 percent was in 2012.

Lake Superior ice cover annual maximum
Lake Superior ice cover annual maximum
NOAA/GLERL

Your support matters.

You make MPR News possible. Individual donations are behind the clarity in coverage from our reporters across the state, stories that connect us, and conversations that provide perspectives. Help ensure MPR remains a resource that brings Minnesotans together.