Ice continued to cling to the Great Lakes in mid-March, 2014. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) aboard NASA's Aqua satellite flew over the region on and captured a false-color image of the icy scene on March 18. As of March 17, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 82.8 % of the Great Lakes remained ice-covered. That sets a new record high for this late in the season, after 35 years of record keeping. The previous mid-March ice cover high, 75.85% covered, was set on March 15, 1978.
The ice cover peaked this year at 92.2 % on March 6, according to NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL). That was the second highest peak ice cover ever recorded for the Great Lakes since 1973. The highest cover was recorded in February 1979, when ice laid across 94.7 % of the surface of the Great Lakes.
This year's stubbornly cold winter across the northern tier was responsible for the long-lasting, heavy ice up. Even though cold temperatures had only slightly abated by late March, some warming and an increasingly favorable sun angle had helped the waters begin to thaw. On March 26, NOAA reported that 74.3% of the Great Lakes remained ice covered.
This false-color image uses a combination of shortwave infrared, near infrared and red (MODIS bands 7,2,1) to help distinguish ice from snow, water and clouds. Open, unfrozen water appears inky blue-black. Ice is pale blue, with thicker ice appearing brighter and thin, melting ice appearing a darker true-blue. Snow appears blue-green. Clouds are white to blue-green, with the colder or icy clouds appearing blue-green to blue.