UPDATE February 26, 2018  Grand Traverse Bay thawed on Sunday, February 25, ending a 14 day streak of being iced in. We will continue to monitor ice on the bay and if it refreezes this season, we will resume counting the days frozen from 14.


TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan – February 13, 2018 – Grand Traverse Bay officially froze on Sunday, February 11, according to The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay. The bay is considered frozen when west bay freezes up to Power Island for at least 24 hours.

In 2015, the bay was declared frozen on February 16 and stayed frozen for 53 days, but it has not frozen the last two winters. This marks the eighth time it has frozen over since 1990, according to Heather Smith, Grand Traverse BAYKEEPER® at The Watershed Center.

“Back in the early to mid-1900s the bay froze 80-90% of the time,” said Smith. “Around 1990, ice cover dropped to 20-30%. Annual variation in ice cover is due to weather patterns, with changes in climate impacting the long-term trends.”

Besides providing recreational opportunities such as ice fishing and skating, another benefit of having ice cover is reduced evaporation, according to Smith. “Less evaporation could contribute to higher water levels in the spring.”

The Watershed Center anticipates there could be thawing in the days ahead as above freezing daytime temperatures are expected. As such, Smith urges caution on all bodies of water, including east and west bay.

The Watershed Center will continue to monitor conditions on the bay and will keep the official log of the number of frozen days through the season.

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The Watershed Center is a non-profit organization that advocates for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and acts to protect and preserve its 1,000-square mile watershed, which covers portions of Grand Traverse, Leelanau, Antrim, and Kalkaska counties. Learn more at

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