Lake Freezes Over Again!

Miles of ice for adventurous skaters. Photo by Vince Rossano.

The National Weather Service announced on Monday, February 16, 2015, that Lake Champlain is completely covered in ice. Remarkably, this is the second year in a row that the ice has extended over the entire lake surface (last year it closed February 12). 

Given the sub-zero temperatures we’ve been experiencing over the last few weeks, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, but in fact, it is a rarer occurrence than it once was. Records for ice cover on Lake Champlain date back to 1816. Through the 1800s and early 1900s, it was quite common for the lake to close. However, over the last two decades, it’s been completely covered in ice just eight times. Prior to last year the lake hadn’t frozen since 2007. The last time it froze over in consecutive years was the period 2003 to 2005. 

Ice cover on lakes is an important indicator of climate change. Although we’ve experienced incredibly cold temperatures these last two winters, the long term trends indicate New England winters are becoming warmer on average. Worldwide 2014 was the hottest in the modern record