With summer just around the corner, the Great Lakes are officially free of ice for the first time in seven months.
While only weeks ago, chunks of ice could be seen floating on the lakes as residents and visitors flocked to the waters for Memorial Day, as of June 6, the lakes were classified as ice-free.
"This year is the longest we've seen ice on Lake Superior in our 40 years of records," Physical Scientist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration George Leshkevich said.
Following one of the coldest winter's on record for the region with temperatures from Jan. 1 to April 1 averaging seven degrees below normal, the Great Lakes hit their second highest ice coverage on record, reaching 92.19 percent on March 6, 2014.
Moving into the spring season, more than one-third or 38 percent, of the Great Lakes remained covered in ice in mid-April, causing major problems for the steel industry as the business relied on the waterways for shipping and transporting goods and materials.
"There are no years in the last 30 years that are even close to that, so it's very unusual this late in the season to have that much ice coverage," AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.
The last time the ice coverage on the lakes lasted nearly this long was in 2003, when the last of the ice cleared on May 29, according to Leshkevich.
The U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Mackinaw and Neah Bay break track lines for a commercial vessels in Lake St. Clair, Jan. 12, 2010. (Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, Photographer Ensign Guillermo Colom)
However, moving farther into the spring season, temperatures began to increase in May, aiding in diminishing the ice coverage on the lakes.
"The air temperature, currents of the water and the water temperatures all play apart in melting the ice," Public Affairs Specialist for the 9th Coast Guard District in Cleveland, Levi Read said.
Since May 1, average temperatures in the Ironwood, Michigan, region have trended slightly above normal with daytime highs in the low 70s and overnight lows in the low 50s.
Aside from rising temperatures across the area, the Coast Guard has been working hard since the beginning of December to break up the ice on the lakes, according to Read.
About a month longer than normal, the service finished ice breaking in the middle of May, Read stated.
Despite the increase in temperatures for the areas surrounding the lakes, the longevity of the cold and the extent of the ice coverage so late into the spring will hinder water temperature recovery.
Petty Officer 3rd Class Scott Gendron of Coast Guard Air Station Detroit drills into frozen Lake Erie to gather ice depth measurements in support of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on March 5, 2014. (Photo/ U.S. Coast Guard, Photographer Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Borsuck)
Currently, the warmest of the lakes, Lake Erie is averaging daily temperatures between 60 and 65 F but the coldest lake has temperatures in the 40s.
"The water is still very, very cold and it's very dangerous for people to go out and get in it," Read said. "The Coast Guard considers anything below 72 F a cold water rescue."
Swimming in water below 70F can induce a life-threatening health condition known as immersion hypothermia. As water takes heat away from the body almost 25 times faster than air, this condition develops much more quickly than standard hypothermia.
With lake temperatures still lagging as the official start to summer approaches, the prolonged water temperature recovery may have a huge impact on the summer weather for the region including some of the United State's major cities, such as Cleveland, Detroit and Buffalo, New York.
"It's going to affect the overall atmosphere around the region," Pastelok said. "It may be a bit on the cooler side."
In addition to cooler weather for the Great Lakes area, slow-recovering lake temperatures could lead to less severe weather near the lakes and more widespread fog.
A tropical wave is likely to become the Atlantic Basin's next tropical storm as it approaches or crosses the Caribbean Sea later this week and potentially pose eventual threats to North America.
Fall air has finally arrived in the northeastern United States and may yield the first frost of the season in parts of the region to end this weekend.
Typhoon Megi will continue to strengthen before threatening lives and property across Taiwan and eastern China this week.
Jose Fernandez, pitcher for the Miami Marlins, died in a boating accident in southern Florida early Sunday morning.
The greatest danger of flooding across the central United States will unfold in western Texas, where downpours will be most persistent into Monday.
Wintry weather marked the first days of autumn across parts of the Mountain West as snow mixed in with the changing fall foliage.
Record Cold..... Location New Record Old Record Augusta, GA 42 45/1896 Greenville/Spartanburg SC 42 44/1985 Huntsville, AL 44 45/1985 Birmingham, AL 43T 43/1965
Arthurdale, PA ()
Golf-ball sized hail up to 8" deep.
Baltimore, MD (1816)
Water froze one-half of an inch thick.