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More than 82 percent of Lake Ontario covered in ice

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Credit theweathernetwork.com
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Satellite images are showing that more than 82 percent of Lake Ontario is now frozen over.

By comparison, 61 percent of the lake's surface was frozen in the first week of March last year.

"I think possibly what is happening is that the lake lost a lot of heat last year because it was a severe winter and, of course, we had a long duration of the ice season in the spring for all the lakes. So, perhaps the lake didn't get a chance to regain its heat content," said George Leshkevich is a physical scientist at the Great Lakes Environmental Laboratory in Michigan.

Leshkevich says the frozen surface of the lake can affect everything from the weather to the shipping industry.

"If the summer's not really hot like it was in 2012, but if the summer is normal to cool, it can affect evaporation from the lake. Therefore, we've seen water levels go up on the lakes."

The heavy ice cover is probably not good news for ducks and other water fowl, which have to be able to plunge into the lake to retrieve fish, their primary food source.

But an icy Lake Ontario could be beneficial in some other ways. The spawning beds of certain species of fish are protected from storms that move over the surface of the lake. And fruit growers could see a positive outcome, too.

"For instance last year when the ice duration lasted well into spring, that can help and it did help the fruit growers in the fruit belts along the western side of Lake Michigan because it kept the buds from budding out early, and thus saved them from the killing frosts," Leshkevich said.

By the way, the record for ice cover on Lake Ontario was 84 percent back in 1979.

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