Photo Friday: Ice atop Lake Erie

When last week’s snowstorm and cold spell made its way through the Great Lakes, nearly 90 percent of Lake Erie froze over, according to the NASA Earth Observatory. The colorized picture above shows ice (pale blue) and snow (blue-green) formed on top of the lake. A report by Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at, showed that these high levels of ice coverage had not been seen on the Great Lakes since January 1994.

Ice forming along Chicago River

The Chicago River just west of where it enters Lake Michigan with what is known as  brash ice, floating fragments of ice usually less than two meters across. Image: Greg Monahan

Photo Friday: Warm Great Lakes clash with frigid air to produce steam fog

This color-enhanced picture from the NASA Earth Observatory shows how the cold air moving across warmer waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior during this week’s arctic storm transformed water vapor into steam fog. NASA says one of its satellites on  Jan. 6 captured the data used here to illustrate the difference between snow (bright orange), water clouds (white), and mixed clouds (peach). Here’s what steam fog looked like near Chicago and from the ground view.

Snowy mitten

Take a look at the NASA Earth Observatory’s remarkable photo of the gigantic snowstorm this week that affected all of the Great Lakes region, plus many other states.

Great Lakes Commission launches restoration database

You can now track progress on restoring the Great Lakes at a new database provided by the Great Lakes Commission. It focuses on conservation plans implemented by the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative over the past three years, and includes several projects in each of the eight Great Lakes states. The initiative, which is managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, has received more than $220 million since 2010 for wildlife restoration. It has led to hundreds of different environmental endeavors ranging from turtle protection research in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to a dam removal in eastern New York. The database contains fact sheets on all work from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative.