The Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory reports ice cover for all of the Great Lakes combined at around 52%, thanks to milder temperatures and gusty winds over the past several weeks.
On March 1, nearly 89 percent of the Great Lakes were covered in ice. In just four weeks, the ice coverage on the Great Lakes has decreased almost in half. Winter is fading in the Northland, as it always does, but markedly faster than the past two years.
Lake Erie reports ice coverage at around 69%, Lake Superior at 66%, Lake Huron at 58%, Lake Michigan at 21%, and Lake Ontario at 19%.
The Iowa Great Lakes are officially declared ice-free for another season. The ice has been off most of western Lake Superior for a couple weeks now. Ice in the Duluth harbor and lower St. Louis River is going fast. And several lakes in southern and central Minnesota already are ice-free.
In southern Minnesota, ice is leaving lakes from one to two weeks ahead of normal — and a month ahead of last year — according to records kept by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.
Pioneer Lake north of the Twin Cities, in Chisago County, lost its ice March 25 this year, 16 days before its April 10 average.
The record for ice coverage came in 1979 with nearly 95 percent of the Great Lakes covered in ice. Just last year, it was the second highest with over 91 percent coverage.
The lab monitors the ice coverage on all five Great Lakes, and is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.