March 5, 2014: the AP is reporting that due to freezing of the Great Lakes, one can expect significant flooding. The water levels are rising back to "normal."
Water levels in the Great Lakes are expected to continue a steady recovery this year, courtesy of widespread ice cover that is slowing evaporation and snowfall that has approached record amounts in some cities, federal experts said Wednesday.
The siege of polar air that has gripped the region this winter has caused the most extensive freeze-over of the lakes since the record-setting year of 1979, when nearly 95 percent of their surface area solidified. On Tuesday, the ice cover reached its highest point since then - 91 percent, said George Leshkevich, a physical scientist with the federal Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.
Meanwhile, the towering snowpack rimming the watershed will melt this spring and much of the water will flow into the lakes or the streams that feed them. The runoff is expected to be so bountiful that some areas will be in danger of flooding, a prospect that could be worsened by ice jams on swollen rivers.
Great Lakes levels dropped sharply in the late 1990s and have remained mostly below normal since. Scientists blame a warming climate, which promotes evaporation and limits ice cover, and occasional dry spells.
The drop-off was most severe on Lakes Michigan and Huron, which hydrologists consider one water body because they are connected and at the same height above sea level. They fell to the lowest point on record in January 2013, while the three other Great Lakes - Superior, Erie and Ontario - were well below average.
The prolonged slump hammered the shipping industry, forcing vessels to carry lighter loads to avoid scraping bottom in channels and ports. Marina owners lost money as slips were too shallow for boats to dock. Vegetation sprang up along waterfronts, frustrating hotel and cottage owners.
But the last 14 months have seen a long-awaited comeback, fueled by plentiful snow and rain. Superior and Michigan-Huron's seasonal rises were almost double their average gains in 2013.
The snow's water content is the highest in a decade on Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron. The snowpack is the equivalent of 9.5 inches of water around Lake Superior. It holds 4 to 8 inches of water in the Huron-Michigan basin, 3.8 inches around Lake Ontario and 1.8 inches around Lake Erie.
And the signs continue pointing upward.
March 1, 2014: update. RealScience is reporting:Ice cover has prevented evaporation and could keep water temperatures cool enough to delay the next period of heavy water loss to the atmosphere, Leshkevich said.
Lake Ontario is the only major holdout, and the forecast there is for extreme cold during the next two weeks.February 11, 2014: another CNS update.
Lake Superior hasn’t completely frozen over in two decades.
But an expert on Great Lakes ice says there’s a “very high likelihood” that the three-quadrillion-gallon lake will soon be totally covered with ice thanks to this winter’s record-breaking cold.
The ice cover on the largest freshwater lake in the world hit a 20-year record of 91 percent on Feb. 5, 1994.
Jay Austin, associate professor at the Large Lakes Observatory in Duluth, Minn., told CNSNews.com that he expects that record will be broken this winter when the most northern of the Great Lakes becomes totally shrouded in ice.February 8, 2014: folks may have seen the note below -- the NY Times parody/satire on "the end of snow" -- see below [For a bit of humor, parody, or satire on this subject, The New Yorks Times has a great op-ed on the "end of snow."] I suggested the Times reporter might want to fly over the snow-covered frozen Great Lakes (see "original post" below).
But it does not stop there. Don sent me this note, the AFP is reporting via Finance!Yahoo News:
The heaviest snow in decades in Tokyo and other areas of Japan has left at least five dead and 600 injured across the country by early Sunday, reports said.
As much as 27 centimetres (10.6 inches) of snow was recorded in Tokyo by late Saturday, the heaviest fall in the capital for 45 years, according to the meteorological agency.
I'm a denier.The snow storm hit the capital on the eve of its gubernatorial election. Observers say the heavy snowfall may affect voter turnout in the city of 13 million people.
It absolutely doesn't matter to me whether one is a warmist or a denier (for the record, Algore is a warmist; I'm a denier); this is quite a story. I think even warmists would find this interesting. I found it fascinating.
For warmists, this is a "weather" story; for deniers, "this is a "climate" story.
The status of the Great Lakes follows.
Lake Superior, the speed of freezing is dramatic:
- almost completely frozen over as of February 5, 2014
- 92% covered with ice
- one week ago: 76%
- current ice cover is the highest amount ever for February 5, 2014
- was 91% covered back in 1994
- now 51% covered
- 42% covered one week ago
- 74% covered back in 1977, 1996
- current ice cover at 86%
- 72% last week
- at this rate, could be completely frozen over next week
- 95% ice cover back in 1981, 1994
- 96% ice covered
- 94% last week
- entirely covered February 5, 1996
- only 32% covered
- 27% last week
- covered with as much as 79% at this point in the winter of 1994
- no significant break in freezing temperatures until at least February 21st
- "it is going to be close, but we may be living in a historic winter with regards to amount of Great Lakes ice
For a bit of humor, parody, or satire on this subject, The New Yorks Times has a great op-ed on the "end of snow." If you enjoy it, you can buy the book. LOL. Perhaps before the Times fires any more of their news staff, the parent company should fly them over the Great Lakes, or almost anywhere over the states: over two-thirds of the contiguous US is now covered with snow. We even have snow here in Grapevine, Texas. [Update, February 13, 2014: according to USA Today, 49 of 50 states now have snow on theground.]