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Great Lakes’ warming has wintertime domino effect

CHICAGO (AP) — Winter is just around the corner, but experts say the Great Lakes haven’t gotten the message.

After summer and fall eve- nings that failed to cool suffi- ciently, surface temperatures in the massive bodies of water are trending above average, the Chicago Tribune reported.

It’s an example of climate change.

“What was kind of jarring was the consistency of the warmer-than-normal con- ditions,” state climatologist Trent Ford said. “And the lack of cool nights.”

Blame states boasting Great Lakes shorelines.

Minnesota and Wisconsin recorded their third-hottest Junes in history. New York had one of its hottest sum- mers. Lake Huron set a re- cord when it reached nearly 74 F (22 C) in late August.

Illinois brought the heat, too. The state’s minimum av- erage temperature for July through October was the highest ever next to 2016, ac- cording to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra- tion records dating to 1895. The average October tem- perature set a record at 8 de- grees above average.

The disruption in expected seasonal temperatures pro- duces a domino effect.

A hard frost was delayed until the last week of Octo- ber, Ford said. Allergy season seemed longer. Bugs had an extended biting season. Ford was picking backyard toma- toes far into October.

It continues throughout the calendar. Illinois’ most pronounced warming has occurred in winter — minimum temperatures have warmed by more than 3 degrees.

That stretches out warmer water temperatures, which can produce more lake ef- fect snow, according to Ford. Snow slows with the arrival of ice, which itself is delayed by warmer water.

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Ice can diminish the damage of coastal erosion. And warmer water, even at depths found in the Great Lakes, pose challenges by welcoming invasive species and generat- ing harmful algae blooms.

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