Lake Michigan Freezes Over?

The maximum of ice coverage on Lake Michigan each winter varies considerably. The maximum extent,expressed in percentage, depends on air temperatures, internal water currents, and wind speed/direction. Usually, the maximum extent occurs in February, but can happen in January or even early March. On occasions , Lake Michigan has been considered "frozen-over."

Ice coverage of 90% or more qualifies for a "frozen-over" designation. The winters that most agree qualify as frozen over are:

1888-1889(Feb. 1889)

1903-1904(Feb. 1904)

1935-1936(Feb. 1936)

1962-1963(FEB. 1963)




1976-1977, 1977-1978, 1978-1979, 1985-1986, 1990-1991, 1993-1994, 1995-1996, 2002-2003

Above is the link for ice coverages on Lake Michigan.

Recently with some hours of clear skies, satellite photographs show heavy ice cover around the lakes and lots of floating pack ice in the center of the lakes. Forecasters feel if the cold persists into February this year we could qualify for frozen over. Standing on the lake shore of either Lake Michigan or Lake Superior today you would only see ice as far as the horizon. That means ice stretches out from ten to thirty miles from the shoreline. 

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  • by karen Location: winnetka, il on Feb 17, 2011 at 10:33 AM
    I am 50 and remember tons of huge hills of ice which stretched far, in addion to the lake appearing frozen. But is does not seem to have happened in many - 30? years. Global warming? A lack of freeze lowers lake levels dramatically - right?
  • by Anonymous on May 4, 2009 at 01:36 PM
    does lake michigan freeze
  • by Ken Location: Alabama on Mar 9, 2009 at 05:19 AM
    Global Warming is not real. It is about Money. Follow the money !!!
  • by Wayne Location: South of Jackson on Mar 1, 2009 at 06:31 PM
    Can't wait for global warming to start. It's too cold. Were is Al Gore when you need him?
  • by Mark Location: E Lansing on Feb 17, 2009 at 12:23 PM
    Always wondered why, if global warming real, that so many record highs are still from 30-100 yrs ago... and many record lows are recent.
  • by Kathy Location: Lansing on Feb 16, 2009 at 03:58 PM
    If you want to see how vast the ice cover is, you can check the following webcams: these are streaming webcams and sometimes they are very interesting.
  • by Roger Location: Homer on Feb 3, 2009 at 07:58 AM
    January was cold but we had 22 days with a least some sunshine. That helps.
  • by Jim Location: Hillsdale County on Jan 31, 2009 at 05:47 AM
    Hi Andy. I would like to see more frequent posts on your blog. How about something about what is causing this severe winter?
  • by susie Location: hanover on Jan 30, 2009 at 01:52 PM
    so much for global warming
  • by Mark Location: Gaylord/St. Johns on Jan 29, 2009 at 07:13 PM
    Andy, How does ice cover relate to amounts of snow? I know this year in both Gaylord and St. Johns, we have more snow that the last few years. If the lake effect shuts down will the rest of the winter have less snow?
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