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Lake Erie poised to freeze over during polar vortex

January 29, 2019

Lake Erie poised to freeze over during polar vortex

CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Lake Erie has been largly open water so far this winter. But thanks a cold snap, and then impending polar vortex, the lake could be 75 percent frozen by the end of the week.

“Our lake waters offshore should freeze up very very fast,” National Weather Service meteorologist Mike Griffin said in a phone interview Tuesday.

That means ice fishing may begin in earnest in Cleveland’s harbors and around the Erie Islands. And the lake-effect snow machine will get turned off. At least until temperatures reach the 50s next week, Griffin said.

The Lake Erie ice forecast.  NOAA

Lake Erie is the shallowest Great Lake and so, freezes faster than the rest of the Great Lakes. Sandusky and Maumee Bays are already completely ice.

“This time of year you couldn’t find a drop of water if you tried,” said Toledo Ice Yacht Commodore Les Lashaway.

On average, about 1 percent of Lake Erie is covered in ice by Dec. 13. Maximum ice coverage usually tops out at 70.5 percent around Feb. 15, according to the Cleveland Division of Water.

The Cuyahoga River is ice-free so far, as you can see on RocktheLake’s Music Box Supper Club bridge cam. But we’ll see what happens by Friday.

Ice coverage of the Great Lakes, as of Jan. 24.  NOAA

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