Great Lakes ice cover reaches record low

Lake Superior has just 6 percent ice cover this week, near record low

Duluth ship canal
Open water Monday at the Duluth ship canal.
Lake Superior Maritime Museum

A much milder-than-average weather pattern across the Great Lakes for most of this winter has produced the lowest ice cover on record for the Great Lakes.

As of Monday, ice covered only 8 percent of the Great Lakes. That’s way below the average of 41 percent for this date and at the record low levels previously set in 2012.

Lake Superior has just 6 percent ice cover as of Monday. That is also well below the average of 39 percent for this time of year.

Lake Superior ice cover
Lake Superior ice cover on Monday
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, via Great Lakes Ice Tracker

The low ice cover on Lake Superior is now very close to the record low level set in 2012.

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Lake Superior historical ice cover
Lake Superior historical ice cover.
NOAA, via Great Lakes Ice Tracker

Overall air temperatures have run between 2 and 8 degrees warmer than average over the past month across the Great Lakes region.

30-day temperature vs average
30-day temperature vs average
Midwest Regional Climate Center

Rain is in the forecast Tuesday for the Great Lakes region. Above-average temperatures are likely overall for the next six to 10 days across the Great Lakes.

NOAA 6 to 10-day temperature outlook
NOAA 6 to 10-day temperature outlook

Colder air is in the forecast for later in February, but it will likely not be enough to overcome the still relatively warm lake water and produce significant gains in ice cover on the Great Lakes, according to experts like Jay Austin with the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Stay tuned.