Thunder Bay

Great Lakes ice coverage reaches near-record low in January

Ice coverage on the Great Lakes dropped to near-record low levels earlier this month, an ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service said.

Just two per cent of the lakes were covered in ice last week

Ice cover on the Great Lakes reached a near-record low last week, an ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service said. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

Ice coverage on the Great Lakes dropped to near-record low levels earlier this month, an ice forecaster with the Canadian Ice Service said.

The service uses satellite imagery to map the percentage of the lakes covered in ice.

Brad Drummond, an ice forecaster with the service, said last week, just two per cent of the lakes were ice-covered, which is close to the all-time record low of 1.5 per cent.

And while colder weather this week has led to the formation of more ice, the percentage is still down when compared to previous years.

"Right now, we are seeing a total of eight per cent ice covered, which is rather low," Drummond said Wednesday. "The median that we should be seeing right now is closer to 19 per cent. So we're less than half of what we should be for this time of year."

Drummond said there hasn't been a pattern in terms of ice levels for the last several years, describing them as volatile, with "very high years of ice coverage and very low years of ice coverage."

As for the rest of this winter, Drummond said the service expects the level of ice coverage to grow, despite warmer temperatures expected in many parts of the Lake Superior region over the next week.

"While it will warm up, it still will be below zero," he said. "So we should see some ice continue to … slowly form and slowly thicken."

"We are expecting ice to grow regardless of this little warm up."

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