DISCUSSION: As we reflect on the progress of this current 2016-2017 winter season up this point in time, there are fairly major discrepancies to be found only just a few years ago by this time. More specifically, this discrepancy is referring to the tremendous contrast in the degree of total lake ice coverage across the western Great Lakes region of the northern/northeastern United States. As you can clearly see in the graphic attached above (courtesy of forecasters at the National Weather Service office located in Marquette, Michigan), there is a major contrast in the amount of ice coverage across Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron just to start. Though the statistics for Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are not presented in the graphic above, there has most definitely been a precipitous drop-off in the magnitude of lake ice cover across those Great Lakes as well when comparing the 2013-2014 winter season and the 2016-2017 winter season.
The chief factor which has been responsible for this tremendous difference in the amount of lake ice cover in place during this current 2016-2017 winter season is the predominantly warmer conditions which have dominated across many parts of the nation. These warmer conditions in place across many sections of the eastern United States have been due to greater tendencies for southerly flow which are a direct consequence of more low pressure systems moving through the central-to-eastern United States. Thus, as these more prevalent low pressure systems developed and moved across the eastern half of the nation, there was a greater frequent for warmer air masses to surge further northward. As a result of this more frequent northward surge of warmer air, this has consequently allowed the majority of the western and the eastern Great Lakes region to remain chiefly unfrozen through the course of this winter up to this point in time. It is worth noting that there is still a possibility that this could change but it does not appear to be likely based on the relatively warmer patterns that appear most likely to continue in the coming days and weeks.
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©2017 Meteorologist Jordan Rabinowitz