Lake Erie's lack of depth and relative lack of size is why it freezes regularly in winter time. Despite being the smallest and shallowest of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is still one of the largest bodies of water on earth.
The Great Lakes, while indeed great, with their fairly rough surf, are more like inland seas, like the Black Sea, Dead Sea or Caspian Sea. The Great Lakes form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth, containing 21% of the world's surface fresh water. Incidentally, that's not a snow covered sand dune; it's a snow covered frozen wave.
Ninety-five percent of Lake Erie's total inflow of water comes from the Detroit River to the west, water from all the "upper lakes" including Superior, Ontario and Huron, the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair and numerous tributaries. The rest comes from precipitation.
Despite freezing easily in winter, Lake Erie is the warmest and most biologically productive of the Great Lakes. The Lake Erie walleye fishery is widely considered the best in the world.
Lake Erie is bounded by Ontario to the north, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York to the south, Michigan to the west. The Lake is 241 miles long and 57 miles width at its largest points.
Water from Lake Erie drains into the Niagara River which, in turn, flows over Niagara Falls. On average, it takes approximately three years for all of the water in Lake Erie to flow in and out of it.
The Lake is named after the Erie tribe who lived along its southern shore.