Great Lakes ice coverage near record

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Federal researchers say ice has covered 90.5 percent of surface of the Great Lakes – that’s one of the highest percentages ever recorded.

Keith Kompoltowicz of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said, “We’re closing in on the all-time record for Great Lakes ice coverage. We’re just a few percentage points from the all-time record.”

Ice extends as far as the eye can see. And not only is the coverage extensive, the ice is also incredibly thick.

“Much of the lake is covered with at least 28 inches of ice cover and there are parts with much more than that,” Kompoltowicz said.

With warmer days coming, it will begin to make the ice on the lake even more unstable for ice fishermen and those venturing out.

U.S. Coast Guard BM1 Tyler Benson said, “As far as search and rescue right now, we’re not seeing a lot, but come this spring, it could be a very busy spring.”

Ice cutters have been busy all winter keeping shipping channels open around Cleveland and Detroit. Eventually, as commercial vessels travel channels in the slowly eroding ice pack, shore ice will become more unstable on Lake Erie.

“You are going to see a lot of merchant vessels and big cargo ships trying to get out there trying to move their product around. It’s going to make the ice more unstable,” said U.S. Coast Guard BM2 Jeremy Bossinger.

The Edward J. Cotter has continued to break ice on the Buffalo River, clearing the way for the next onslaught of ice from Buffalo area creeks.

On top of the problems the ice could cause, it could also make for cooler Spring days. More ice means a longer period to reach “ice out.” Southwesterly winds blowing over the ice and eventually cooler water will certainly make for some chillier Spring days.

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