By Brian Lada – AccuWeather
The El Niño-influenced weather pattern over the past several months has brought above-normal temperatures in the Midwest and Northeast, causing the ice coverage on the Great Lakes to be significantly lower than it has been over the past two winters.
As of Feb. 2, 2016, the total ice coverage on the Great Lakes was less than 6 percent, just a fraction of what it was at the start of February in 2014 and 2015, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL).
During the past two winters, early intrusions of arctic air paired with the persistence of below-normal temperatures caused ice to develop and to expand across large areas of the lakes by the middle of the winter.
However, the weather pattern during the first half of this winter has been significantly different, favoring temperatures near to above normal across the region. As a result, only a small amount of ice has been able to form on the Great Lakes.
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