Lake Ontario’s temperatures and what they mean

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CENTRAL, N.Y. (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – Lake Ontario is currently running around 5 degrees warmer than average, setting records for one of the warmest it’s been in decades. Although it might not sound like much to us, a 5 degree difference can make much more of an impact during the winter months when the lakes are ice-free and warmer for longer, allowing lake effect snow to intensify.

The warmer water also contributes to blooms of harmful algae and bacteria that produce toxins. These toxins can cause illnesses and contaminate drinking water supplies. 

Why is the water temperature so high? Well, it’s due to a warmer than normal summer and fall which has prevented the lake from cooling down at it’s normal rate. Since it takes much more time to warm up and cool down the lake than it does the air, it looks like this trend of warmer than normal water temperatures will stick around for a while as we head into this winter.

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