Freezing temps create strong possibility for a frozen Grand Traverse Bay

Picture of frozen Grand Traverse Bay near Old Mission Peninsula in early 1900's.

Courtesy: Traverse City History Center

The cold temperatures have been hitting northern Michigan hard this year and they have caused some record amounts of ice on the Great Lakes and in some large bays.

Meteorologist Joe Charlevoix says that the temperatures have created the greatest amount of ice cover on the Great Lakes this early in the season since 1994. He says a typical winter freezes up about 51-percent of the Great Lakes by March, and the fact that they are already 48-percent frozen in January means we've had a very cold winter.

"A lot of major bays are frozen over," said Charlevoix. "Saginaw Bay is completely froze, Whitefish Bay, The Bay of Green Bay, Georgian Bay in Lake Huron."

Grand Traverse Bay still has a good mix of ice and water. Because of the depth, it takes longer for the water to freeze compared to other bays. The Grand Traverse Bay has only completely frozen over a few times in the last 20 years.

"To get this, it has to freeze from Traverse City north to Power Island which is about six miles," said Charlevoix. "It has to be ice covered. And the last time that happened was for a couple of days in 2009. Before that it was 2003, and the time we know before that was back in 1996."

National Weather Service Science and Operations Officer, Justin Arnott says it's a good possibility that the Grand Traverse Bay could completely freeze this year.

"They're going to need cold weather and calm clear nights," said Arnott. "The ones that get real cold and the pattern certainly looks conclusive for that."