Great Lakes Ice Coverage, 1973 - 2017


  • Sam Allard, Scene

The Great Lakes are freezing faster than last year, and the year before, thanks to quickly dipping temperatures across the upper Midwest. That may seem like the kind of news solely in the purview of weather and water nerds, but it shouldn't be. The Great Lakes support a few billion dollars of industry, including shipping, recreation and fishing. Tracking patterns and coverage year by year, not only does the work of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration provide forecasts that are essential to the various players who navigate the lakes during winter, not to mention those of us who live in lake-effect snow belts, it also plays a vital role in studying climate change.

Which is all by way of saying it's worth paying attention to, of course, but mainly it's a lead-in to a nifty graphic from NOAA of ice coverage on the Great Lakes since 1973.

So enjoy that, and if you want to get a first-person sense of what it's like when the lakes freeze and ice cutters need to clear paths for ships, do delve into our 2014 feature from aboard the USCG Morro Bay.

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