Will Lake Erie freeze?

Current ice is less than 1%

Will Lake Erie freeze?
When will the lake freeze? (Source: Michael Dakota)

CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -As we head into the meat of our winter months, a question so many people ask is, “Will Lake Erie freeze?” It’s an important question, of course. We get our famous lake effect snow mainly from Lake Erie. It’s the shallowest and warmest of all the Great Lakes. When it freezes, though, our lake effect is basically shut off. When it doesn’t, it stays open for business.

Lake Erie ice forecast
Lake Erie ice forecast (Source: WOIO)

Where are we now, in mid-January? While our afternoon temperatures have been chilly, our overnight low temperatures have been mild. Cloud cover is to blame for this. In fact, we’ve has zero hours of temperatures in the teens in 2021. Without that consistently cold air place, ice has a hard time forming on the lake. Our current ice coverage stands at less than 1%. This is much below average going back the past 40 years.

Where do we go from here? Over the next seven days, we do get colder, but not arctic air cold. The kind of cold we need to build ice up quickly. There are good signs that we will see arctic air toward the end of the month, but that air would need to stick around for 10-14 days to see meaningful ice formation. We’re talking teens for highs for a week or two.

So will the lake freeze? We can’t entirely rule it out; there’s always a chance, but as it stands now, our chances of complete ice-covered Lake Erie are very low. So, that means our lake effect snow risk may last all winter, which, in turn, means, more snow. It’s not just pure lake effect either. A larger storm can have some extra punch from lake enhancement, which would also still be in play.

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