Lake Erie freezes over, ice covers half of the Great Lakes

Sarah Rahal
The Detroit News
More than 90 percent of Lake Erie is covered in ice and nearly half of all the Great Lakes are covered on Feb. 1, 2019.

Following the polar vortex in the Midwest this week, Lake Erie has frozen over and nearly half of Michigan's Great Lakes are covered in ice. 

More than 90 percent of Lake Erie is covered in ice, prime conditions for fishing on the shoreline. Meanwhile, about 48 percent of the Great Lakes are ice covered, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 

Even though it's the southernmost of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie tends to freeze over the earliest because it is shallow and has less heat capacity than the other lakes, NOAA Researcher Brent Lofgren said.

"It's not all that rare. Lake Erie freezes often," Lofgren said. "There aren't really any negative effects of it. Actually, it will prevent further lake effect snow for that season."

Most of the lakes have between 2-6 inches of ice covering with parts of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron with anywhere between 12-28 inches of ice.

Weather temperatures are expected to rise through the weekend starting Saturday with a high of 37. Sunday and Monday will be in the high 40's.

"The warm weather isn't going to have all that big of an effect on Lake Erie. But for other lakes like Lake Michigan, you'll see a lot of open water again soon because of transport and it's likely to melt quickly," Lofgren said.

"Do not go ice fishing far from shore on Lake Erie, because that ice can shift," he said. "Check with local authorities on the safety of fishing on nearshore ice."
Twitter: @SarahRahal_