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Polar vortex winter: Lake Superior nearly frozen over a month early

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You know it's been a real winter when the big lake they call Gitche Gumee is nearly frozen over in early February.

Here's the shot of a now ice-covered Lake Superior from NASA's MODIS Terra satellite from the University of Wisconsin-Madison from Tuesday.

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Image: NASA

Today's MPR News weather spy Jay Austin is a professor at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and the Large Lakes Observatory. He sends along the news this morning that Lake Superior has almost completely frozen over, a month ahead of schedule for years when the big lake reaches complete ice cover.

Here's the brief but attention getting email Jay sent my way this morning.

Superior is completely ice covered

There you have it. And a month ahead of the normal max:

http://www.natice.noaa.gov/pub/special/great_lakes/2014/charts/composite_west/wl140204color.jpg

Jay Austin

Here's the view of an icy Lake Superior from the Lake Superior Maritime Museum web cam in Duluth this morning.

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Image: Lake Superior Maritime Museum

Here's the chart from the Canadian Ice Service.

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The Canadian data show we now have the highest ice coverage at this point in winter (more than 70 percent) on the Great Lakes in 18 years, since the winter of 1995-96.

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Image: Canadian Ice Service

The early and extensive Great Lakes ice cover is yet another vivid sign of the vigorous winter of 2013-'14 in the northern U.S.