It's been a strange winter for Michigan. We haven't seen the consistent low temperatures like we're used to, and it's been unusually warm for most of the season. We didn't have a White Christmas, we BARELY seem to have seen any snow this year, and what we did see, mostly turned to ice, or melted instantly.

So it should be no surprise that the Great Lakes also felt the effects, and are on track to post historically low ice coverage since we began keeping records.

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In early January, we speculated that we could see record numbers this year, in the worst possible way. An El Nino system, that dumped FEET of snow, and deluges of rain on the west coast, influenced the weather pattern that actually kept most of Michigan relatively warm and dry this year.

In the early parts of January, only 0.2% of the Great Lakes had any ice coverage, and Lake Michigan had almost none. Obviously, we know January got a little hairy, and much colder, which did spike the amount of ice on the Great Lakes, but it wasn't enough.

And now, we should be on the backslide of winter, and the Great Lakes are not looking any better.

Only the northern-most parts of Lakes Michigan and Superior have ice coverage now, and are BARELY over 2%. Lake Huron has more shallow inlets and bays, so it allows for more area to freeze easier. It's at almost 10%, Lake Ontario has less than 1% ice coverage, and Lake Erie has absolutely no ice coverage on it at this time.

All told, only 4% of the Great Lakes have ice on them.

Meteorological Winter ends with February, and from there, things usually warm up significantly. But it doesn't seem like we'll be seeing any real cool-down any time soon, with temperatures through the end of February staying pretty steady in the 40s and 50s.

NOAA is obviously keeping an eye on any environmental impacts the low ice might have on the region, but at this time, they say they aren't seeing any significant impacts of water levels.

But there are some concerns.

"Understanding how low ice affects algal bloom dynamics is an active area of research. Since ice cover varies so much year to year, and the downward trend in long-term ice cover is very gradual, we are just starting to be able to study these impacts."

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