Warmest day in 4 months? Lake Michigan sets all time ice record

Aaron Peterson and his wife Sandra Peterson remove layers during a run around Como Lake in St. Paul Monday morning. Jeffrey Thompson / MPR News

Defrost cycle

Welcome to spring in Minnesota.

I saw a variety of confused looks on my neighbors faces Sunday at our neighborhood get together. The first outdoor bonfire since October spawned a bevy of talk about the winter that was, and the spring that is less than 24 hours old.


Clearly not just a river in Egypt. It’s also how Minnesotans feel about the first 40-degree days in spring.  Minnesotans are from Missouri on springtime. Show us green grass, and we’ll believe it’s going to be spring. It’s a self-defense mechanism in a month when the next Tournament Snowstorm is usually just days away.

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We make a run at 50 today in the Twin Cities metro area for the first time in nearly four months. A milder start and plenty of sun will give us a good shot. The deep snow cover will be the limiting factor to just how warm we can get. Most of Minnesota is still living on a glacier.

The Pacific air mass overhead is plenty mild enough to support temps well into the 50s today in southwest Minnesota, with 70s again today in western Iowa and Nebraska.

Image: NOAA

Get out and enjoy, this may be the warmest day since mid-November!

  • 44 degrees high in the metro Sunday
  • 32 degrees overnight low this morning at Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport
  • Nov. 17 – last time the metro saw a low at or above 32 degrees
  • Nov. 16 – last 50-degree temperature at MSP Airport
  • 36 degrees average high at MSP today

Roller Coaster week ahead

Temps bounce around this week as a cold front slides through Minnesota Tuesday. Our warmer Pacific breezes return by Thursday.

Image: Weatherspark

Yes, it was along cold winter. The temp finally cracked 40 degrees at Rochester Sunday for the first time in 98 days, the fourth longest stretch on record.

Image: La Crosse NWS

No doubt about it, the Chinook turbo charged Pacific air mass is doing a number on snow cover int he Midwest and Minnesota. The back edge of snow cover is at Sioux Falls and working rapidly east into southwest Minnesota.


The snow water equivalent, or total water content of the snow pack is impressive in northeast Minnesota. This will help the Great Lakes maintain water levels this spring.


The snow has visibly “slouched” in the metro the past few days. In fact we’ve melted/compressed 6 inches of snow since March 1 as snow cover has gone from 21 inches then to 15 inches this morning.

Image: Twin Cities NWS

Lake Michigan sets ice record

Ice coverage on lake Michigan reached a record 93.29 percent Saturday. That surpasses the 93.1 percent set in 1977. Details from the Milwaukee office of the National Weather Service.

Lake Michigan Ice Cover Reaches Record Coverage!

This last stretch of cold weather during late February into the first week of March caused ice concentration on Lake Michigan to rapidly increase. TheGreat Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) in Ann Arbor Michigan measures the ice concentration on the Great Lakes daily.  On March 8th, the ice concentration on Lake Michigan was measured at 93.29%.  This sets a new record ice cover on Lake Michigan.  The previous record was 93.1% set in 1977.   The period of record dates back to 1973. 

The below graph shows the rapid increase in ice concentration since late February.

Image: Milwaukee NWS

Click on the image below to see the animated progression on Lake Michigan ice cover from space.

Image: NOAA

Overall it looks like the Great Lakes fell short of reaching record ice coverage this winter.