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  1. #1
    Lieutenant Commander bowman316's Avatar
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    Default Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    I heard that only lake Eire freezes over completly, but do the other lakes freeze enough to drive on? Can you drive on a lake when it is only half frozen?

    I guess when they freeze over the lake effect snow stops?

    I thought there was no way that the water could stay liquid when it is that cold out.
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  2. #2
    Lieutenant mphy98's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    It has been many many years since Lake Michigan froze over. Last year the ice went 12 miles out. The longest in recent memory. When I was a kid I remember the ice went out a long way out from Bark River in the UP. I think my grandfather drove us kids to Green Bay on the ice, my mother was fit to be tied then. I thought grandpa said the ice was 6" deep though.
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  3. #3
    Lieutenant Commander bowman316's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    do shipping companies keep running ships on the lakes over winter, i know there are some shipping routes on lake michigan.
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  4. #4
    Admiral tommays's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?





    They have and ice breaker fleet
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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Go here and see the current satellite imagery of the lakes. If it's cloudy you can't see anything.

    http://coastwatch.glerl.noaa.gov/modis/region_map.html

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    I went north over the mackinaw bridge tuesday morning and it was open from one end to the other.
    When I came back south wednesday afternoon it was frozen from one end to the other with some jumbled up ice in the current.
    The Soo locks are closed this time. Shipping is basically at a standstill till spring.
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  7. #7
    Admiral Huron Angler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Last year Lake Huron froze a lot further out than it has in recent years due to the cold temps. There are years where there may be no ice at all. I've got some sweet pictures of the ice caves, frozen waves, and huge icebergs/floes.

    The shipping in the great lakes has slowed to a crawl these days with demand for basic materials like limestone in China falling the last few years. The fact that housing starts have declined means low demand for all sorts of commodities. The locks at Sault Ste. Marie are barely active these days with no freighter traffic to speak of.

    The waves will keep ice from forming quite a bit, when calm a skin will form pretty quickly, only to be broken when the wind picks up.

    The lake effect snow will always be able to pick up some moisture, since the lakes don't come anywhere close to freezing all the way across. Last year we had an extra football field of ice on our beach, great for snowshoing

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    How deep are the Great Lakes? That would prevent them from freezing over because as the water gets colder (up to about 2-3 degrees Celsius) the water gets more dense and sinks. So as the water cools down it will sink to the bottom and warmer water moves up to the surface. Until the entire lake from top to bottom is in that 2-3 degree range they won't be able to freeze.

  9. #9
    Admiral Huron Angler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    How deep are the Great Lakes?
    Erie- 210 ft Avg 62ft
    Huron- 770 ft Avg 195ft
    Michigan-923 ft Avg 279ft
    Ontario- 808 ft Avg 283ft
    Superior- 1,332 Avg 483ft

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Quote Originally Posted by bowman316 View Post
    ... Can you drive on a lake when it is only half frozen?...
    Half frozen is also half liquid! Does your car float?

    I wouldn't drive on any of them. Maybe Erie, if I saw other people doing it, but none of the others!

  11. #11
    Commander gonefishie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    If the floe is thick enough you can set up a whole shanty village on it let alone drive on it. You just hope it doesn't seperate from land. Hundreds got trapped on one last year.

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  12. #12
    Lieutenant BWR1953's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    I remember when I lived in Sandusky, OH in the '70s that lake Erie routinely froze up all the way across. There were always stories about some crazy fool who decided to drive across. Sometimes they made it all the way... sometimes they didn't.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Lake Erie freezes every year. It does not freeze completely over very often but it does happen. It also does not freeze flat. There are many pressure ridges and cracks that can be 10 feet or more high. Only once about 20 years ago did I see people driving vehicles on the ice. Usually only quads or snow mobiles for ice fishing.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Many years ago Niagara falls froze up so much that the river below stopped flowing.
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  15. #15
    Petty Officer 2nd Class mikastorm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Seems like every year there are people adrift on ice flows on erie. Last year there was a few fatality,s.

    Qoute:Ottowa County, Ohio sheriff Bob Bratton, didn't mince words when asked about ice fishermen who apparently ignored signs that the ice was unstable on Lake Erie, leaving one man dead and 125 so-called fishermen to be rescued in a massive operation on Saturday: "If there was a section in the code about common sense, we would have made about 150 arrests out there today."
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  16. #16
    Lieutenant Junior Grade solar7647's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    It was sad that those two people died..but when this story broke it was funny as hell to see all those people just stuck...it was a big story in NW Ohio
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  17. #17
    Commander bifflefan's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    I think Lake Superior still freezes completely over but the breakers may keep parts of it open.

    But none of the lakes freeze solid. One of the earlier post made a comment, i think in that direction.

    I see people driveing on most of the lakes in MI in the winter. Cars, trucks, ATV's what ever. I think they are nuts, but thats me. Im not much of a fisherman and really dont have any idea what bait to use to catch a car-fish.
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  18. #18
    Chief Petty Officer Tig's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Our bay, off Lake Ontario freezes every year but you can't just drive anywhere you please. As mentioned pressure cracks are a serious hazard. Also springs and currents can cause weak spots.
    I have never seen Lake Ontario freeze more than a few hundred meters from shore around here. Those few hundred meters are a series of mounds and caves formed by waves crashing. Interesting but but not entirely safe place to explore. In high winds the waves crashing can be quite spectacular. We can see them rise above the trees on the sand bar from our place over three miles away.
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  19. #19
    Admiral Huron Angler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Quote Originally Posted by joed View Post
    It also does not freeze flat. There are many pressure ridges and cracks that can be 10 feet or more high. Only once about 20 years ago did I see people driving vehicles on the ice. Usually only quads or snow mobiles for ice fishing.
    I agree with joed, they don't freeze like inland lakes do, these photos of Lake Huron are from late March 2008.

    We only drive the quads on inland lakes...and never trucks. A guy did peel past our shanty last year about 20 ft away in a F150 last year, didn't even hear any cracks

    That is the most ice that I can remember seeing, my folks say in the 70s there were years with much more snow and ice coverage on the big lake.

    BTW, my son is trying to build a sand castle with frozen sand


    This is a few days later when the wind shifted to the east, it warmed up a bit too, driving all the floes right off to open water.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    No real ice even forms on the shore of lake Michigan here I read that the milder air temperatures and depth of the southern basin keep it mostly ice free.
    Was down there tonight and spotted some lights on the lake, sure enough big ole ship out there.
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  21. #21
    Moderator WIMUSKY's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Quote Originally Posted by bifflefan View Post
    I think Lake Superior still freezes completely over but the breakers may keep parts of it open.

    I see people driveing on most of the lakes in MI in the winter. Cars, trucks, ATV's what ever. I think they are nuts, but thats me. Im not much of a fisherman and really dont have any idea what bait to use to catch a car-fish.
    They drive on Lake Superior from Bayfield WI to Medaline Island(one of the Apostle Islands) where people reside year round. They also have car races on Chequamagon Bay in Ashland WI.

    I'm one of those guys who will drive on the ice as long as there is at least a foot of "good ice". Basically, if I see trucks out there at least as big as me. coupled with ice reports at the baitshop and friends, I have no problem driving out. Been doing it for many years.
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  22. #22
    Commander gonefishie's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    I've heard that with good ice, 2" is safe to walk on and 6" is safe to drive on.

  23. #23
    Moderator WIMUSKY's Avatar
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Quote Originally Posted by gonefishie View Post
    I've heard that with good ice, 2" is safe to walk on and 6" is safe to drive on.
    I think they upped that to 4" and 8". People do walk on 2". Not me! 6" I wouldn't want to be on anything but an ATV or snowmobile. 8" for a light car, even then I wouldn't recommend it. You just never now how thick the ice is between shore and where you plan on to stop and fish. Around here there were a couple of small(s-10 type) trucks that drove out on 8" this year. Buddy of mine just took his fullsize F150 on 12/13". Others that size were out there too... I have a 3/4 ton with an extra 800# in the box. I think I'm going to wait for another 6".
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Quote Originally Posted by Huron Angler View Post
    Last year Lake Huron froze a lot further out than it has in recent years due to the cold temps. There are years where there may be no ice at all. I've got some sweet pictures of the ice caves, frozen waves, and huge icebergs/floes.

    The shipping in the great lakes has slowed to a crawl these days with demand for basic materials like limestone in China falling the last few years. The fact that housing starts have declined means low demand for all sorts of commodities. The locks at Sault Ste. Marie are barely active these days with no freighter traffic to speak of.

    The waves will keep ice from forming quite a bit, when calm a skin will form pretty quickly, only to be broken when the wind picks up.

    The lake effect snow will always be able to pick up some moisture, since the lakes don't come anywhere close to freezing all the way across. Last year we had an extra football field of ice on our beach, great for snowshoing

    The local paper reported shipping thru the Soo Locks was the slowest since 1938 and the great depression. I believe the shipping season ended officially this last weekend, although there was a freighter that passed thru on Sunday. It will resume sometime in early March or so, when the USCG decides it's worth the effort to break the ice up and keep the channel open.

    It's really not been that cold up here so far this year, and there have been multiple warnings that the ice, even on inland lakes, is not yet safe to run snomobiles

  25. #25
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    Default Re: Do the Great lakes freeze over?

    Quote Originally Posted by windsors03cobra View Post
    No real ice even forms on the shore of lake Michigan here I read that the milder air temperatures and depth of the southern basin keep it mostly ice free.
    Was down there tonight and spotted some lights on the lake, sure enough big ole ship out there.

    WHAT?? I have seen and been out on the ice from shore many times. 2 years ago the ice was out solid for I believe 10 miles or more. See Racine Journal times archives for pictures and articles.
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