Lake Erie Ice Cover

During the winter months, Lake Erie experiences varying levels of ice coverage. When considering annual maximum or average ice cover in the Great Lakes, it is common to treat each “ice year” as the period between December (of the previous year) and May (of the current year), as this is when freezing events occur in the region. The data shown on this page represents long-term trends and projections for lake surface temperatures in Lake Erie compiled by GLISA. Don't see the temperature data you need? Contact us! 

Monthly ice cover percentage graph

Monthly ice cover percentage

Lake Erie ice cover by month with peak ice cover between February and March and zero ice cover in the beginning of December and the middle of May.

Annual max ice coverage chart

Ice cover changes from year to year

Variability in the ice cover on Lake Erie changes each year. Most years, the maximum ice coverage of Lake Erie reaches above 90 percent (due its very shallow depth). However, there are outliers where certain years exhibit very low ice coverage. This is often caused by outside drivers, for example, in 1998 there was a strong El Niño event, which caused high temperature and lower ice coverage that year.

Decadally averaged ice cover graph

There is less ice now than in the past

While there is annual variability in Lake Erie ice coverage, there has been, on average, less ice cover in the decades since the 1990s than in the decades prior to the 1990s. This trend is observed in both average and maximum annual ice coverage on the lake.