February 6, 2014: Lake Superior Ice Coverage in Perspective
Lake Superior is almost completely ice covered. This is amazing for this time in the winter, but is it unprecedented? An examination of the satellite record (that only goes back to the early 1980s) shows it is unusual but not unprecedented (Image 1 above). The Canadian Ice Service graph show that up to this week, it is not even the greatest concentration of ice on the Great Lakes. The winter of 1995-96 is number 1, with the winter of 93-94 close behind. This winter is a close third. Keep in mind that this is the concentration chart is for all the Great Lakes. If Superior is looked at separately, this could be the top year.
The concentration of ice on Lake Superior is incredible for early February (Image 2). Satellite depiction shows 90 percent concentration through almost the entire lake, with only a small section of shoreline on the west end of the lake and an area between Isle Royale and the Keweenaw showing slightly lower concentrations. Obviously, there is at least a little open water because there is still enough evaporation going on for some lake-effect clouds (Image 3).
As the cold continues, the ice will continue to grow. The big question is, will it look like image 4 above on the first day of meteorological summer?