Lake Huron ice coverage tops 95 percent so far this winter

This satellite image shows Lake Huron’s ice coverage taken February 22, 2015

LAKE HURON—The bitterly cold temperatures rocking Ontario in recent weeks means a large percentage of the Great Lakes is ice-covered for a second year, the number surpassing 80 percent of the lakes are iced over as of this past weekend. Experts say that, with no end in sight for frigid temperatures, ice coverage will continue to grow, noting that it has nearly doubled in only two weeks. This also marked the official end of Great Lakes shipping for the time being as ships have nowhere to go and at least one freighter is frozen in its tracks on Lake Erie.

The record for Great Lakes ice coverage was set in 1979 at 94.7 percent and last year’s cover came in a close second at 92.2 percent.

One year ago, on February 23, 2014, Lake Huron’s mean concentration of ice was 75.2 percent while, as of February 23 of this year, Lake Huron’s mean coverage increased by a whopping 20 percent to 95.3 percent coverage, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Last year’s heavy concentration of ice meant the delay of the start of the Chi-Cheemaun’s sailing season, by only a day, to Sunday, May 3. The Expositor reported last May that the Chi-Cheemaun’s parent company, the Owen Sound Transportation Company, had a Canadian Coast Guard helicopter sent from Parry Sound on an ice reconnaissance mission along the Bruce Peninsula from Owen Sound north to Cove Island after high winds at the end of April impeded the ferry’s sailing route when ice was unexpectedly blown across Georgian Bay the day prior to the Big Canoe’s annual trip from its winter berth in Owen Sound to its spring/summer/fall Tobermory terminus.