The Great Lakes are nearly frozen over. For the first time since the early 1990's, the ice coverage on the lakes, which ironically enough were carved out by massive glaciers, is nearing record territory.
At 77% ice coverage, it is the greatest extent observed since the early 1990's. While the lakes are not solid ice through and through due to the incredible depth and volume of the lakes, most of the lakes have considerable surface ice as seen in the image above from mlive.com.
However, the ice is growing rapidly still and will continue to do so for a few more weeks as temperatures continue to however near zero. Already this is the largest ice extent observed this century according to The Weather Channel.
According to multiple sources, including ClimateDepot.com, Lake Superior has exceeded it's 20-year ice extent. Here are some other cold, hard facts about the Great Lakes ice from ClimateDepot:
Lake Superior: 92% frozen (breaking old record of 91% from Feb. 1994)
Lake Michigan: 51% frozen. Coyotes were seen walking on the lake near Chicago.
Lake Huron: 86% frozen. This lake may be totally iced over by the end of this week.
Lake Erie: 96% frozen. It's one of the smaller Great Lakes and has the least amount of volume.
Lake Ontario: 32% frozen. This lake is the second deepest so it's no surprise it has small ice coverage.
As mentioned above, temperatures in this part of the country are not expected to moderate very much this week and therefore rapidly expanding ice is expected to continue for the next few days. If we do not exceed record territory on all the lakes, it'll certainly be close.
This has been one incredible winter.