Traverse City News and Events

Bay Frozen Over For First Time Since 2015

By Beth Milligan | Feb. 14, 2018

Grand Traverse Bay officially froze over Sunday for the first time since 2015, according to The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay.

The bay is considered frozen when West Bay freezes up to Power Island for at least 24 hours. In 2015, the bay was declared frozen on February 16 and stayed frozen for 53 days. However, it has not frozen the last two winters. This marks the eighth time the bay has frozen over since 1990, says Heather Smith, Grand Traverse Baykeeper at The Watershed Center.

“Back in the early to mid-1900s, the bay froze 80-90 percent of the time,” says Smith. “Around 1990, ice cover dropped to 20-30 percent. Annual variation in ice cover is due to weather patterns, with changes in climate impacting the long-term trends.”

Besides providing recreational opportunities such as ice fishing and skating, another benefit of having ice cover is reduced evaporation, according to Smith. “Less evaporation could contribute to higher water levels in the spring.”

The Watershed Center says there could be thawing in the days ahead as above-freezing daytime temperatures are expected. Smith urges caution on all bodies of water, including East and West Bay. The Watershed Center will monitor conditions and keep an official log of the number of frozen days throughout the season.

Photo credit: The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay

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