Michigan's Grand Traverse Bay frozen for 6th time in last 20 years

Grand Traverse Bay is frozen for the sixth time in the last 20 years, according to a non-profit.

Grand Traverse Bay officially froze on Wednesday, February 13, 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 2018, the bay was declared frozen on February 11 and remained frozen for 14 days before thawing. This marks the sixth time the bay has frozen over in the past 20 years, according to The Watershed Center.

“Back in the early to mid-1900s the bay froze 70-90% of the time,” said Heather Smith, Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER at The Watershed Center. “Around 1990, we started to see fewer years of ice cover. Annual variation in ice cover is due to weather patterns, with changes in climate impacting the long-term trends. This decrease in ice cover is not unique to our region. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reports that annual average ice coverage declined 71% from 1973 to 2010 in all five of the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair.”

Besides providing recreational opportunities such as ice fishing and skating, wildlife can reap the benefits of the frozen bay, too. “Ice coverage can be helpful for some fish species, such as white fish, whose eggs may be protected from winter storms,” said Smith.

There will be variations in the thickness of the ice. As such, Smith urges extreme caution on all bodies of water, including east and west bay.

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