Its been a rough winter - not only for New York, but for most of the country. The Great Lakes are no exception to this bitterly cold weather.

 

(Photo by NASA/Getty Images)

The Great Lakes definitely get their share of ice throughout the winter months, but it seems like this year has been a little more rough, compared to the usual. Lake Erie for example, is about 94% frozen over.

It's not just Lake Erie though, all of the Great Lakes have some ice coverage. More than 85% of the Great Lakes are frozen over. That's up .2% from last year at this same time, and up 15.6% from 2013.

 

The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory keeps an eye on the ice coverage of the Great Lakes. According to the National Oceanic And Atmospheric Administration,

Understanding the major effect of ice on the Great Lakes is crucial because it impacts a range of societal benefits provided by the lakes, from hydropower generation to commercial shipping to the fishing industry...

Studying, monitoring, and predicting ice coverage on the Great Lakes plays an important role in determining climate patterns, lake water levels, water movement patterns, water temperature structure, and spring plankton blooms.

 

The NOAA/GLERL started keeping track of ice coverage back in the early 1970's. Since then, the overall average of ice coverage on the Great Lakes has sat around 51.4%. Considering that the Great Lakes are more than 85% frozen right now... well, you can see that's quite a difference.

There have only been a few years that the Great Lakes have been more ice covered than they are now, since the NOAA/GLERL started keeping track. 1979 was one of those years, where the ice coverage reached 94.7%

2002 was the most mild winter for the frozen lakes, with only 9.5% of the Great Lakes frozen over.

 

The mid-western, southern, and northeastern states are looking at record breaking cold temperatures for the rest of this week and into the weekend, so more ice is a possibility for the Great Lakes.

 

 

[NOAA]