Lake Superior Ice Coverage Down 20% So Far In Winter 2021
Despite having one of the coldest mornings we've had in a while, Lake Superior still isn't icing up all that well. The National Weather Service Duluth, Minnesota office reports that compared to the average ice coverage for Lake Superior, we are down quite a bit.
They share a graphic where you can see that we are down on average about 20% of normal ice concentration since December of 2020. Normally by February, we should see ice concentrations upwards of 40%. The peak of the ice occurs typically in late February or early March, and breaks up into the spring by May. There are some exceptions to ice out, but the averages are represented on the chart. I remember when we had our first "polar vortex" as we called it in 2013. That following spring there was still ice chunks on park point on Memorial Day Weekend.
Temperatures this winter have been relatively mild. This current cold snap we have has been the coldest yet. In the Twin Ports we saw temperatures about -12F. Other areas saw even colder, Ash Lake and Cotton both got down to -35F. There was a windchill warning until 11am today, and likely will be one for tomorrow morning as well. Temperatures then return to above average into the weekend and early next week.
There has been some cold years in our past where Lake Superior has frozen completely over, but it's been a long time. The last instance was in 1996. I remember that year well as schools were cancelled because of the cold in many places back in the day when they really didn't cancel schools. On February 2nd, 1996 Tower, MN recorded the low record temperature of -60F.
We will see what the rest of the winter brings, but so far it's been pretty mild, and looks to stay that way for a while.
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