EAST GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — It’s been one of the warmest starts to January on record in West Michigan. Grand Rapids has yet to see a day with a below normal high temperature.
In the five Great Lakes, the ice cover is 4.5%. Typically at this point in January, ice coverage should be approaching 25%.
Current ice cover compared to average.
Ice cover in the Great Lakes.
“The ice has started later, the ice has not lasted as long, and the coverage has been reduced quite a bit,” said Richard Rood, co-principal investigator for the Great Lakes Integrated Assessment and Science and professor of climate and engineering science and engineering. University of Michigan space.
Rood said the lack of ice on the Great Lakes has become more common since the winter of 1997-1998, with the amount of cover slowly declining. He explained that the trend is primarily caused by a slowly warming climate coupled with changing and more extreme weather events. It does not foresee any change.
“We could have essentially ice-free seasons, mostly away from the coasts,” he said.
While ice-free lakes may not seem like a problem on the surface, they can have major effects on ecosystems or receding shorelines. In western Michigan, lake-effect snow could lengthen and become heavier without ice protecting the water.
For winter sportsmen, the ice fishing season could be limited.
“They come in and the first thing they say is, ‘We need ice,'” Joe Koperski, a sales associate at Al & Bob’s Sports, said of the anglers who came into the store in southern Wyoming.
Warmers for sale at Al and Bob’s Sports in southern Wyoming. (January 25, 2023)
An ice fishing tent at Al and Bob’s Sports in southern Wyoming. (January 25, 2023)
Business at Al & Bob’s has been slower than normal in recent weeks, with fewer customers looking for ice fishing gear.
“To get to ice right now where it’s safe enough to fish, you’d have to go to Cadillac Lake or (neighboring) Mitchell Lake. That’s as far south as you can go,” Koperski said.
There is some hope for local fishermen. Ice formation usually increases during the month of February.
The long-term temperature forecast indicates a cool start to February.
With an upcoming cooldown and an active pattern setting in, local lakes should have a better chance of freezing.