It’s official: Traverse City’s Grand Traverse Bay is frozen – all the way up to Northport!

Typically the Bay is considered frozen when it freezes up to Power Island. With colder temperatures from this season’s polar vortex, the Bay has frozen all the way to Northport.

This is the first time since March 2009 the Bay has frozen and only the sixth time it has frozen over since 1990, according to Program Director Sarah U’Ren.

“In the last 30 years the Bay hasn’t frozen over all that much compared to the previous 100+ years of record,” U’Ren explained. “So, people aren’t used to seeing it happen. People are excited to get out and ice fish on the Bay! So, it’s another way to enjoy winter.”

The ice isn’t just great for ice fishing – it will also help lake levels. With ice cover, the water can’t evaporate, and will hopefully help bring lake levels up this summer.

Evaporation fuels lake-effect snow. Since the evaporation cycle is broken, it may also mean less lake effect snow and more frequent glimpses of the sun.

The Bay freezing over also will protect nearshore areas from erosion caused by wave action during strong winter storms, U’Ren says, and the ice cover will protect eggs and spawning habitat for fish species.

Karlyn Haas wrote this story for The Watershed Center Grand Traverse Bay, which advocates for clean water in Grand Traverse Bay and the protection of its 1,000-square-mile watershed.