Lake Superior may freeze over this month

Lake Superior MODIS Imagery: NOAA CoastWatch
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Lake Superior, the largest of all the lakes, may freeze over this season.

In most years, this lake will not exceed 90% ice coverage, mainly due to the depth and the sheer size of the thing. A complete freeze of surface ice is rare. The last time this occurred was back in the intense winter of 1996.

Temperatures are not expected to get above freezing near the lake and ice growth will likely continue over the next 10 days or so. Around mid-March, ice coverage will probably peak and we’ll see at that point if ice coverage does indeed hit 100%.

KCRG Morning News Anchor Chris Earl had this to share from his time when he worked at Duluth, MN: “One element of living in Duluth is that, unless you’re in a western-facing apartment, you have a view of Lake Superior. The slope of the city – 15 miles long and about a mile deep – means it’s a part of the tapestry of the area.

This winter being one where the entire lake might freeze shows just how dramatic the 2018-19 winter has been. You get used to the extreme cold, the sun going down really early in December and January and running in parking lots to get inside as soon as possible.

If nothing else, this brings more attention to the big lake during the winter months – the time we’re just waiting the Coast Guard ice-cutters to slice through for the first saltie to reach into the harbor. Definitely a frozen chapter of my life I’ll never forget.”

Why do we care down here in Iowa? When the Great Lakes ice coverage is high, our March and to a lesser extent, April, tend to bring below normal temperatures to eastern Iowa. This is likely due to the continuation of the pattern that got the lakes in that position in the first place. No doubt about it, that forecast trick is sure working this year!