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Ice coverage is lower than historical average due to unusual winter weather

Ice on Mullet Lake
Teresa Homsi
A thin sheet of ice covers parts of Mullet Lake on Jan. 13.

If the month ended today, it would be the second warmest January in Northern Michigan in the last century. That’s why ice coverage on the Great Lakes is currently far lower than the historical average.

The Great Lakes are beginning the new year with ice coverage of just under 6 percent - about four times lower than the average for this time of year.

Michael Boguth is a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Gaylord. He said the lower ice coverage may result in more winter lake-effect precipitation and lower lake levels.

“We had a really cold spell for like three days centered on Christmas, and that was it," Boguth said. "Since then, we've been above normal almost every day. Those temperatures just aren't conducive to produce a good ice pack on the Great Lakes.”

The DNR and local law enforcement warn people to avoid traveling out on thin, unsafe ice.

To see historical and daily data of ice cover on the Great Lakes, visit NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Teresa Homsi is an environmental reporter and Report for America Corp Member based in northern Michigan for WCMU. She is covering rural environmental issues, public health and Michigan commerce. Homsi has a bachelor’s from Central Michigan University in environmental studies, journalism and anthropology. During her undergraduate, she was a beat reporter for CMU’s student newspaper Central Michigan Life and interned for the Huron Daily Tribune. She has also interned for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy in the superfund section. *Report for America is a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms, more info at