Lake Erie Almost Ice-Free in Contrast To a Year Ago

CLEVELAND (AP) -
Birds hang out this past Sunday on a placid and ice-free Lake Erie. (Flickr/Anne Scott)
Birds hang out this past Sunday on a placid and ice-free Lake Erie. (Flickr/Anne Scott)

One year ago Lake Erie was the marvel of the Northeast, the face of the bone-chilling winter of 2015. Now, weather officials say, the lake is almost entirely free of ice, in contrast to a year ago when it was nearly covered.

Meteorologist Brian Mitchell with the National Weather Service in Cleveland says the El Nino weather pattern helped lead to a mild winter in the Great Lakes region.

The Great Lakes overall have only an 8.5 percent ice cover, with Lake Erie at .05 percent and Lake Huron at just over 17 percent. At this time last year, total ice cover was 83.2 percent, with Lake Erie at about 94 percent.