The 1,000-Mile Great Lakes Adventures

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Ice on Lake Michigan

There have been many reports about the remarkable amount of ice coverage on the Great Lakes during this frigid winter. The highest recorded total ice coverage on the Great Lakes is 94.7% from 1979 (the most modern data set only goes back to 1973). 

On February 12, the Great Lakes were 87% sealed with ice. 

Ice builds around Chicago's water intake

A witness to the freeze on Chicago's Navy Pier

Check out the remarkable growth of ice on Lake Michigan over a 4-day period this month here

Prevailing winds from the west tend to break up Lake Michigan's ice and push it across the lake to the shores of Indiana and Michigan. Large stacks of ice form along the shoreline.

Ice builds around Navy Pier

Ice floe meanders up the Chicago River

The ice coverage will reduce the amount of water that the lakes lose to evaporation this spring. Heavy precipitation this winter will flow to the lakes and raise them up to 11" this year.


  1. Shifting winds blew the ice offshore near here recently, but there's plenty of snow (old and new) for today's Winter Carnival in Northport. Keep warm, Loreen!

  2. I saw that your magnificent ice caves were no longer accessible. Did you get out to see them? I hope to get up to the Apostle Islands caves before the thaw.