Lake Superior more than 80 percent iced over

This satellite image of Lake Superior shows the great lake more than 83 percent ice-covered. 

We’ve reached the part of winter that either steels or breaks Minnesotans. No, it’s not *that* cold, but it’s cold. Yeah, we’re used to snow, but we’re *tired* of it. We don’t need a new snow blower. We need a psychologist.

It’s been a colder and snowier winter than average; not the most wicked winter we’ve ever had, just a persistent one. One way you can assess winter in the region is the ice cover on Lake Superior, the North America’s largest freshwater lake.

Right now it’s at 83 percent. This graphic from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) shows the recent surge in new lake ice:

Another image shows ice thickness, which is surprisingly robust:

That’s some solid ice near the Twin Ports, which has been a boon to local ice anglers. Inland lakes are a mess because the snow cover has turned most of them into slushy, impassible nightmares.

Lake Superior does ice over sometimes. The last time that happened was in 2014. But it’s only been over 80 percent 7 times in the past 45 years. It doesn’t necessarily mean winters are warmer or colder, just that there are more sustained days of freezing temperatures in the icier years.

So if you’re getting a little squirrelly from the snow and cold, there’s evidence that yes, this has been an icy winter. Just ask Lake Superior.


  1. David W Carlson says

    A friend in Silver Bay shared your post on FB.
    My wife and I have a home on the shore of Lake Superior at Little Marais. When we left last Sunday, Feb 17, the lake was ice-free a hundred feet from shore to at least 15 miles out, my horizon line from our living room. Quite a strong current northeast to southwest opens the ice pack quickly.

    Unfortunately, when the lake opens wide and the temperature at our place is below freezing, our 400 ft driveway to Hwy 61 is too slippery to get out without four-wheel drive. My wife shoveled the drifts while I sprinkled four bucks of salted sand. We were under way in half an hour.

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