Great Lakes are ice free at last

(USA TODAY) -- At last, winter is over in the Great Lakes.

For the first time since November, the Great Lakes are ice-free as of today, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The last holdout was Lake Superior, where ice remained near Marquette, Mich., as recently as late last week.

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Over Memorial Day weekend, ice chunks on Lake Superior were large enough to provide dramatic backdrops for sunbathers on a warm May day.

The U.S. Coast Guard put in over 2,000 hours of ice-breaking operations this winter, the agency reported today. At one point in early March, more than 92% of the lakes were ice-covered, the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory reported, the second-highest percentage on record.

Though the good news is that summer will begin in 11 days, the "less good" news is that the amount of daylight each day will begin to shrink a few days later, signaling the slow crawl toward the winter of 2014-15.


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