Less ice on Lake Michigan can impact cloudiness in Michiana

NOW: Less ice on Lake Michigan can impact cloudiness in Michiana

If you’ve spent some time out by the lakeshore recently, you would have seen that Lake Michigan is open water right now - no ice in sight. This time last year, we had some ice built up along the shoreline, so where’s that ice now?

More mild temperatures have kept Lake Michigan and the Great Lakes as a whole warm enough to keep the ice at bay, but we’re still seeing some of that ice cover further north. As of January 29, the ice coverage on Lake Michigan was only 8.3% with the average for the day being 32% - that’s almost 4 times as much ice cover as what we’re seeing now!

So, if we’re not seeing any ice here in Michiana, where is it? Right now, ice on Lake Michigan is mainly in Green Bay or along the southern shoreline of the Upper Peninsula, both of which are far north of our area.

The Great Lakes region in general is similar, with 7.3% ice coverage and an average of 35% for January 29, which is nearly 5 times as much as our current ice coverage.

Lake Michigan affects our weather in many ways - you’ve heard of lake effect snow, lake effect rain, but what about lake effect clouds?

The process that forms these types of clouds starts the same way as the process of lake effect snow, with a relatively warm lake. Cold air moves over the warmer waters, picking up moisture as it goes. Moisture-rich, warmer air near the lake’s watery surface then rises since it’s warmer than the air around it.

The rising air forms clouds in the sky - lake effect clouds! If these clouds got too filled up with moisture, lake effect snow or rain would be produced, but sometimes, those clouds stay as clouds, creating a gloomy blanket over our area.

When less ice is covering Lake Michigan and the water is warmer, there’s a better chance for us to see lake effect, whether it be in the form of snow, rain, or clouds.

Share this article: