The shipping season on the Great Lakes is drawing to a close, but the Thunder Bay Port Authority is already looking ahead to what next year might bring.

The warm winter weather means freighters are encountering little to no ice as they cross Lake Superior, and that has the potential to create water level problems in the future, said Tim Heney, the chief executive officer of the Thunder Bay Port Authority. 

Tim Heney

Tim Heney, CEO, Thunder Bay Port Authority (Nicole Ireland/CBC)

"One of the concerns when we have no ice cover, like it looks like we're going to have this year, is that it can cause lake levels to drop more than usual because of evaporation," he said.

Instead, this season is ending on an unusual note when it comes to water levels, Heney explained.

"To see it bounce up in December is very unusual, because it usually drops about three inches on average in December." said Heney.

"We just don't want to see a return to the levels back in 2007, when we are at the all-time low, but it looks like that's not going to happen anytime soon," said Heney.

The lack of ice makes no difference in the length of the shipping season, said Heney, adding there are only three more vessels, which need to load up, before the season comes to a close.