Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 4, 2014

Lake ice blamed for deep freeze

TRAVERSE CITY — More relentlessly cold temperatures and relatively calm winds allowed Lake Michigan to regain ice cover, reaching around 90 percent coverage yesterday.

The ice cover on the lake can be blamed for at least some of this week’s bone-chilling cold. The ice, National Weather Service Meteorologist Nick Schwartz said, is trapping moisture and heat, reducing cloud cover, limiting lake effect snow and causing temperatures to plummet well below normal.

“It certainly means less bouts of lake effect snow for the upcoming week, even if we can’t get as much heat transfer from lake and surrounding atmosphere,” said Schwartz.

Gaylord temperatures reached record lows Monday morning, hitting a bone-chilling -26 degree mark, while the temperature in Traverse City dipped to 18 below. Grand Traverse area residents will see more freezing cold in the coming days until a warm up Friday moves the mercury into the 30s.

But while humans are suffering from the freezing temperatures, whitefish are catching a break. Fishermen are unable to fish because their boats are locked into ice and the temperature is just too cold.

“For the most part the past few winters, if there was any break in the weather, they (fishermen) were able to go out,” said Nels Carlson, a co-owner at Carlson’s Fishery in Leland.

Burritt’s Fresh Markets in Traverse City hasn’t had fresh whitefish in about six weeks, which is the longest drought in recent memory.

“Normally around this time of year I sell 50 pounds of whitefish in a week,” said Jake Erway, the manager of the fish department at Burritt’s.

William Fowler, owner of 1836 Fish Company, said this winter he’s resorted to cutting wood and snow plowing to make up for the fishing loss.

“We can’t fish but it’s good for the ecology of the lake, the biology of the lake,” Fowler said. “It’s good for the whitefish to protect the eggs in the shallow water.”

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