Stubborn, Solid Ice: Great Lakes Set Late-Season Record (ANIMATION)

By Jess Baker
Published: March 18, 2014
Great Lakes Ice Cover

Animation traces the amount of ice coverage on the Great Lakes since mid-February.

Winter is keeping a tight grip on the Great Lakes. March 2014 has set a new record high for the amount of ice cover this late in the season.

According to NOAA, 82.8 percent of the Great Lakes were still covered in ice as of March 17. That's the highest mark for this late in the season more than 35 years, surpassing the previous mid-March high of 75.85 percent set on March 15, 1978.

(MORE: When Will Spring Arrive?)

This winter was already second in the record books for the most amount of ice ever recorded on the Great Lakes.

"According to analysis by NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (NOAA/GLERL), ice cover peaked at 92.2 percent of the Great Lakes on March 6," meteorologist Jon Erdman said. "In records dating to 1973, only February 1979 (94.7 percent peak) had more ice.

Despite Thursday's official start to spring, the ice isn't likely to melt quickly. Meteorologists say this stubborn cold pattern, which is partially responsible for at least 22 named winter storms so far, doesn't appear to be letting go in the near future.

"With a high probability of colder-than-average temperature across the Great Lakes next week according to the Climate Prediction Center, it appears the melting will continue to be slower than what we would typically expect this late in the season," meteorologist Chris Dolce explains.

(FORECAST: Unusually Cold Start to Spring)

The brutal winter has had some benefits. People from around the world have come to hike to Lake Superior's spectacular ice caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, which are only accessible during the coldest winters.

MORE: The Frozen Great Lakes

Ice covers the shoreline of Lake Michigan on Feb. 18, 2014 in Chicago, Ill. This winter’s prolonged cold weather has caused more than 88 percent of the Great Lakes to be covered in ice which is near the record of 95 percent set in Feb. 1979. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

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