It’s turned remarkably mild across much of the country by late winter standards. The temp turnaround to warmer than normal temps across the lower 48 in just the past three days has been dramatic.
Ice build-up on the Great Lakes with the arrival of frigid arctic air last week will now no doubt reverse with the arrival of much above normal temps–expected to dominate over the coming week and weekend.
As of Sunday, NOAA’s Great Lake Environmental Laboratory (GLERL) reports 14.2% of Lake Michigan’s surface reported ice. That only a little over half (55%) the 50-years 1973-2022 average of 26% coverage. Lake Michigan has been as much as 82.9% ice covered on Feb 5 in 1977 and, more recently, 67.4% of the lake in 1996. The lowest observed Feb 5 ice coverage on Lake Michigan was just 5.1% of the lake’s surface in 2006.
Full forecast details at the WGN Weather Center
Only 12 of the past 51 years for which detailed ice coverage values are available have had less ice on Feb 5th placing current ice coverage among the lowest 24% observed at this time of year.
Also on the wane is snow coverage across the Lower 48. The vast expanse of warmer than normal air has dropped from 51.3% coverage of the Lower 48 last Thursday, Feb 2 to this morning’s 36.1%. That means snow coverage has dropped Monday morning to 70% of the area of the Continental U.S. observed with a covering of snow last Thursday.
Lower 48 snow coverage peaked at 59.7% of the Lower 48 back on January 26—-11 days ago. Monday morning’s snow coverage down 40% since then.
Check out just how expansive the milder air which has swept into dominance across the lower 48–and the predicted temp departures in the coming two weeks on the latest Monday morning run of the National Weather Service’s GFS ensemble model.