The National Weather Service announced on Monday, February 16, 2015, that Lake Champlain is now 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 12th). 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.
Climate scientists use ice cover on lakes as 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.
If you record ice in or ice out dates for any of Vermont’s lakes or ponds, please help us track climate trends by sending those closing and opening dates to Bethany.Sargent@state.vt.us.