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Great Lakes at near-record temperatures

Detroit -- North America's Great Lakes are warmer than usual -- as much as 15 degrees above normal -- and could get record temperatures this summer, experts say.

Each of the Great Lakes is showing temperatures well above normal for this time of year, the result of a shortened winter season and a hot spring, The Detroit News reported Friday.

"All of the lakes are either at or approaching their normal temperatures for late August," Jay Austin, a physics professor at the University of Minnesota, said. "They're already at what we would have expected to be their peak temperatures for the summer, and we have several more weeks of warming to go."

This year's higher temperatures are the result of a winter season with less than normal amounts of ice on the lakes and the recent trends in warming temperatures throughout the region, Austin said.

Lake Superior is the most sensitive to temperature changes, scientists say, and local fish restaurant owner Ralph Wilcox knows that only too well.

Wilcox, who fishes to supply his own establishment and for restaurants in Chicago and New York, says the warm water makes whitefish harder to come by.

"It chases them out deeper," the 68-year-old Wilcox says. "They get out into the water column and you can't catch them. They usually don't do that until mid-August or so.

"This is the first time in a lot of years that we've had to buy fish for our restaurant."

Copyright 2010 United Press International, Inc. (UPI).

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