Great Lakes Water Levels

October 5th, 2012 at 4:30 am by under Bill's Blog, Weather

   This is a recent picture showing the low water level near Traverse City.   Due to below average precipitation and above average evaporation, the water level of Lake Michigan has dropped significantly.  It’s down 7″ in the past month and it’s now 13″ below the level of one year ago.  The lake is now just 2″ above the low water level of October 1964.  The lake is 27″ below average and 69″ above the high water record set in Oct. 1986.  Lake Superior dropped 4″ in the last month and is now 2″ below the level of one year ago.  Superior is 15″ below the average level.  Lake Erie is down 4″ in the last month and 17″ in the past year.  Erie is now 7″ below the average level.  Ontario is down 7″ in the last month and 11″ year-to-year. It’s 9″ below the century average.  Lake Michigan is expected to drop another 1-3″ in the next month.

112 Responses to “Great Lakes Water Levels”

  1. ninifere says:

    Hey Bill,
    Do you think that we can now say we are done with 70 degree days for the year?

    1. John (Holland) says:

      Some long-range forecasts are flirting with high 60s-70 during the week of the 14th.

      1. fixxxer says:

        Sounds good to me john. Todays highs suck!

    2. Bill Steffen says:

      Don’t know about 70…we could conceivably hit 70 over the weekend or next week…but 80 is unlikely. Last year the last 70 was Oct. 12.

  2. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

    I went to the Rockford Dam last night with my boys and I was saddened to see how low the water level was and with the dam gates open, salmon were having a difficult time jumping, one landed on the platform and was stuck for the longest time not because of the force of the water off the dam but lack of water to get it’s momentum going to jump to the next level it was on it’s side like stuck fish on land which it was, then if flipped flopped around and finally caught enough stream to get pushed back down into the water. I took pictures and it was sad :-(

    1. Spence says:

      Swartz_Zoo, I hope you do realize that even when the water levels are normal that the salmon can not get past the Rockford dam. That is their upstream limit. So perhaps it is not as sad as you had thought.

  3. Lisa (Caledonia) says:

    We need some good snowstorms this winter that are not lake-effect to bring some water back into the region.

    1. Ned S. (Now in South Holland) says:

      I agree. I’m not a big winter enthusiast, but we need some major snows to replenish the great lales and the inland water tables. Lake effect snows won’t really do anything for the great lakes.

    2. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Now you are talking. Lets hope for over 100 inches of snow this winter with at least 4 major snowstorms and a couple blizzards!

  4. kevin. w says:

    Be careful what you wish for with the type of extreme seasonal events (heat, tornadoes, floods, blizzards, hurricanes) you could end up with to much of a good thing if thats what we would call it.

    1. kevin. w says:

      Also hot dry air and cold dry air can’t evaporate an awful lot of water out of the lakes as well.

  5. Vicki (Holland) says:

    Do you think bottled water companies have any affect on the water level?

    1. Joe(Grand Rapids) says:

      Do you think the farmers irrigating their crops during the dry summer have any affect on the water level?

    2. GunLakeDeb says:

      When they pull thousands of gallons a day? Definitely! And another source of water depletion (that takes water out of the “water cycle” FOREVER) – oil and gas well hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Some wells in northern Michigan can take as much as a few million gallons of water for each time it’s fracked; and when that water comes back up as “flowback” (a water and chemical mix) – it’s put into disposal wells far below any existing water tables. Never to be used/seen again. EVER.

      From the Director of the MI DEQ/Oil, Gas and Minerals Dept: there are 42,000 active oil wells in Michigan, and 11,000 active gas wells. 80% of all recently drilled wells will be fracked.

      Do the math. Sorry to go a little OT – but these numbers alarm me, as a lover of Michigan’s water resources.

      1. Bill Steffen says:

        Respectfully disagree, Deb. Lake Michigan contains 1.3 quadrillion gallons of water (1,300,000,000,000,000 gallons). Chicago is allowed to divert 3,200 cfs from Lake Michigan. A cubic foot of water is about 7.5 gallons. That’s about 24,000 gallons per second. So, “thousands of gallons per day” is far less than “a drop in the bucket”. Ground water levels in the immediate vicinity of the water plant would be a more important question.

        I run into people that are against pretty much every form of energy. They’re against oil, coal, natural gas, nuclear, hydro, wind (birds run into the turbines and they certainly don’t want to see wind turbines on the horizon to spoil the view). If someone wants to go back to living like they did in the 18th century, feel free…but I’ll choose reliable and reasonably priced energy that the middle and lower class can afford. Look around the world where they don’t have energy and live is hard…and short.

        1. Hugh says:

          Thank you

        2. John (Holland) says:

          Watch “Revolution” on NBC. Terrifyingly realistic in my opinion. Energy infrastructure is what keeps this world civilized.

        3. michael g (SE GR) says:

          Thousands, quadrillions, they’re practically the same thing right? :-) Funniest part is the line “Do the math”.

        4. GunLakeDeb says:

          Bill – I wasn’t clear enough about referring to groundwater. (Sorry) I think Nestle was cut back in how much water they could draw in a day, because it was proved adequately enough in court that they were depleting the groundwater too fast?

      2. big Daddy BC says:

        And some people would sacrifice anything for money. Fracking is incredibly wasteful. Deb’s right, if this continues, in the next decade we’re going to be feeling the ill effects. Bill, is there no environmental offensive that’s too costly?

        1. Bill Steffen says:

          What kind of energy are you for? You seem to be against coal, oil, nuclear, hydro, natural gas. I assume you’re all for wind turbines as long as they don’t spoil your view. I’ll vote for reasonably-priced energy and a growing economy. You can go live in a cave if you wish.

        2. big Daddy BC says:

          I’m for energy independence from the Middle East that includes a balanced approach and does not include destroying west Michigan, using up our water, and contaminating the water supply. Fracking is dirty, wasteful, and just plain wrong. Shame on you for supporting the rape of our great state.

        3. Bill Steffen says:

          I agree with the first part of that (…approach). We’re not “destroying West Michigan” and we’re not “using up our water”. Over-the-top comments like that make you sound silly. You never answered my question.

    3. Cort S. says:

      We can minimize the long-term impact of drawing water out of the Great Lakes watershed for bottled water, if we restrict sales and consumption of that bottled water to remain only within the Great Lakes watershed. We’ll pee it out and it’ll eventually go back to into groundwater, rivers, lakes, and the Great Lakes. A big problem that would still occur, locally, is if large amounts of groundwater are drawn out of wells for mass-production bottling. The groundwater table will go down in that area, faster than natural replenishment can keep up.

      That’s also an interesting thing that I was unaware of, Deb. Fracking is an example of the many new things that we as humans discover we can do, but comes with unintended (and sometimes unknown) consequences. This is why government-sanctioned scientific studies, and their resulting recommendations for regulations, can in theory be a good thing for the sake of long-term sustainability. Of course, I say in theory, because how much government regulation is too little and how much is too much? That question is essentially the basis for many political debates… sometimes even the healthy, respectful, intelligent, beneficial variety if we’re lucky!

      1. Irish coffee says:

        TOO MUCH regulation? see:California; where property usage, water usage, land usage, etc is so highly regulated/taxed one can’t sneeze w/o a fine…their economy is in the RED, jobs(and free-minded people) are leaving/fleeing the state.OTOH, witness Texas, where economy is flourishing, taxes are lower w/ lower unemployment,etc. We have many examples of state-to-state conservative small(er) gov’t/lower tax rate successes vs. highly regulated,big gov’t(liberal run) bankrupt states- see IL

        1. Brad says:

          California: $1.735T GDP; Texas: $1.15T GDP. California also has a higher per capita GDP.

          Here’s states by median household income. Nine of the ten top states voted Obama in 2008:

          California is experiencing net population growth, but Texas is the fastest-growing state:

          California does have the largest total debt, but Texas is third:

          I don’t need to get into the differences in economic drivers between California and Texas. That would be overkill, and you look for answers in politics, not data.

        2. Brad says:

          Argh, I have to repost without all my links because WOOD-TV does not allow them.

          California: $1.735T GDP; Texas: $1.15T GDP. California also has a higher per capita GDP.

          Here’s states by median household income. Nine of the ten top states voted Obama in 2008:

          California is experiencing net population growth, but Texas is the fastest-growing state.

          California does have the largest total debt, but Texas is third:

          I don’t need to get into the differences in economic drivers between California and Texas. That would be overkill, and you look for answers in politics, not data.

        3. Brad says:

          Hey, cool, thanks WOOD for passing my original reply through moderation.

        4. Irish coffee says:

          Nice data points Brad! I was thinking more along the lines of regulatory restraints though wrt CA vs TX.CA has higher gas/tax rates + lower disposable incomes(actual income is politically deceiving due to high cost of regulations) See also IL,fwiw

        5. Bill Steffen says:

          Note: Often the computer will put into moderation comments that have multiple links. It happens to me, too. We have to do this to cut down on spam comments.

      2. GunLakeDeb says:

        Cort – I have wavered back and forth on the drilling/fracking issue. Fracking (IMO) can be good because it lets a driller get more oil from a single well, therefore destroying less “habitat” (they don’t have to clear 5 acres and drill another well when the initial well is depleted). Fewer well pads leads to less erosion and pollution of surface water. And so far, Michigan’s tough laws regarding drilling and fracking have prevented any catastrophic events, like groundwater contamination, that *have* occurred in a few other states.

        But I DO have a problem with ruining perfectly good groundwater and taking it out of the Water Cycle forever. So I support the Anti-Fracking folks. Hopefully, if enough pressure is put on the drillers, they will adopt a new form of fracking that uses propane as the carrying medium – I read about this on the Nat Geo website – I think it’s being used in Colorado. In this case, the “flowback” is FUEL and can be utilized; and it protects our freshwater. Win-win, IMO.

  6. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

    Heading out to Grand Haven in an hour per Jacks suggestion here on the blog who does AMAZING photography to have me “Catch some waves” and any rare but not impossible water spouts so I’m picking up my kids with their cameras and mine and we out there until it gets dark! :-)

    1. Jack says:

      Have Fun, Be Safe, God Bless………. :-)

  7. Paul says:

    Bill, I was just on WOOD TV 8′s sister station’s (WISH TV) website. I was looking at their weather blog and they have no comments on any of their posts. I know it does get a little crazy on here (bdbc, joanne, brad, fixxxer) occasionally, but at least there’s life on “Bill’s Blog”. Thank you Bill for keeping the blog exciting, interesting and educational.

    Romney won the debate


    Obama fudged the numbers

    1. Jack says:

      Hey Paul Did Ya Hear What Al Gore Said,about Why Obama Did So Poorly In The Debate.. He said It was due to Altitude”…… Lmao… ;-)

      1. big Daddy BC says:

        Maybe it was. Denver is the mile high city. Ever been there?

        1. Jack says:

          Yes, Wouldn’t It Have The Same Effect on Both Romney ( The Winner ), and Obama ( The LOSER ),

        2. big Daddy BC says:

          Depends on how they prepared for it. Altitude sickness affects people differently. It’s tied to the production of hemoglobin. BTW, I haven’t seen anyone on here bragging about unemployment dropping to 7.8%. Full steam ahead. Hard to imagine going back to the days of GWB. Ugh!

        3. Mike M. says:

          If we had the same civilian workforce that we had when the Obama regime started, then the real unemployment rate would be 11.63%. Millions have dropped out because they’ve given up finding a job or gone on disability. GDP is growing at a pathetic 1.3%. The Democrat’s plan of spreading poverty from sea to shining sea is firmly in place.

        4. Mike M. says:

          If Romney had popped an Ambien and a double shot of Jägermeister just before going on stage, he still would have beaten BHO like a rented mule.

        5. GunLakeDeb says:

          Altitude just kicks my butt (flatlander all my life) – but Jack is right – it should have affected Romney, too. I suspect it was more a case of Romney, who’s BEEN debating; vs. Obama, who’s been running a country. I think the next debate should be a lot more fiery??

        6. John (Holland) says:

          Running a country into the ground…

        7. big Daddy BC says:

          Short term memory issues, John. It was Bush that drove this country into the ground. Obama’s the one fixing it.

        8. big Daddy BC says:

          I linked reuters. You linked a right-wing blog.

        9. Bill Steffen says:

          Real Clear Politics is NOT a “right-wing blog” LOL!! It’s not a blog at all! Check it out: It has links to articles from the left, right and center. Here’s their poll page: It’s the industry standard. Every major TV network uses Real Clear Politics.

          Again, here’s the Fordham Univ. study on poll accuracy: Rasmussen was #1 – Reuters was 3rd from the bottom!

        10. big Daddy BC says:

          That’s good because your link has Rassmussen putting Obama up over Romney. LOL

      2. Paul says:

        Maybe he meant “inaptitude”, lmao!

    2. fixxxer says:

      Define “crazy” on here? If you mean differences in opinions then yes.

    3. INDY says:

      So true……INDYY..

      1. Jack says:

        Cue : Patsy Cline…..CRAZY…….. :-)

    4. big Daddy BC says:

      Or maybe it had to do with Romney cheating.

      It’s Bush all over again. When will you guys find a candidate with a brain? LOL
      …Or maybe it was a hanky…

      1. Ned S. (Now in South Holland) says:

        Obama’s a coward and a failure. He couldn’t run a Kool-Aid stand. You can sya whatever you want about Romney, but the fact remains; Obama is a failure, period. The only thing he’s probably improved is his golf handicap. Of course he may cheat at golf too.

        1. big Daddy BC says:

          Watch the video, Nedman. Romney snuck notes with him because he doesn’t have the brains for a debate. Hilarious!!

        2. big Daddy BC says:

          It’s a sad testament to the kind of man Romney is.

        3. big Daddy BC says:

          Actually that one was within the margin of error. I read it and CNN conceded that more republicans voted in that one than dems. Almost every other poll has the VP 10-20 percent ahead. He schooled Eddy Munster last night. LOL

        4. Bill Steffen says:

          AP Poll: Ryan 51%, Biden 43%.

          From The Examiner:

          “According to CNN poll of debate watchers released following Thursday’s matchup between Rep. Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden showed 48% of respondents named Ryan the winner and 44% said Biden won.

          According to with 650,000 votes in the poll, Paul Ryan won the debate, Ryan has 54% and Joe Biden 46%, a 8% lead in this poll.

          A CNN/ORC International post-debate poll shows a 50%-41% margin, debate watchers say that Ryan rather than Biden better expressed himself.

          A CNN/ORC International post-debate poll shows. Seven in ten said Biden was seen as spending more time attacking his opponent, and that may be a contributing factor in Ryan’s 53%-43% advantage on being more likable. Ryan also had a slight advantage on being more in touch with the problems of average Americans.

      2. Kimoeagle says:

        Just HOW did he cheat? Or are you referrring to the clip in which he puts his handkerchief on the podium? ;-)

        1. big Daddy BC says:

          Handkerchief, huh. That’s funny. Who puts a snot rag on a podium before doing a speech?

          Here’s video of him cheating in a previous debate, not that the right cares. You lemmings will follow this party right back off the cliff.

        2. Mike M. says:

          There was a note on the handkerchief from his wife It said, “Try not to laugh out loud when you kick this idiot’s ass!”

          Here’s a great chart to rub salt in the crying Dem’s wounds…

      3. John (Holland) says:

        It WAS a hanky. He wiped his nose with it at one point in the debate.

        1. big Daddy BC says:

          Sure it was, John. Sure.
          So who’s giving him the answer in this vid?

        2. joanne says:

          That was no Hanky John. Look at how it hit the podium. It was a pad of paper and not cloth. Proof is in the video, which Romney didn’t realize was filming from the back. Oops, he is busted, but you right wingers will accept it because you don’t care if your leader has a moral character. Romney is going to go down in flames at the next debate. I can’t wait. I do however wish that the moderator will have a mute button for his big mouth. You sure can tell he has no respect for rules.

        3. Bill Steffen says:

          That’s right, JoAnne – and Elvis is at the Burger King in Kalamazoo…and aliens are living in Area 51…and subliminal advertising is causing people to buy I-Phones and the world will end on December 21, 2012 because the Maya calendar says so!! Bird Flu! Swine Flu! Y2K!!

        4. big Daddy BC says:

          Don’t forget the Garden of Eden, the Great Flood, and the lake of fire.

        5. big Daddy BC says:

          I’m not sure what that has to do with Romney cheating in two different debates.

        6. big Daddy BC says:

          Here’s how the church feels about your personal campaign.

  8. Nathan says:

    Bill, i wore your mustache to school today. :)

    1. big Daddy BC says:

      A younger man with that stache might be mistaken for John Holmes.

      1. Mike M. says:

        Funny, you remind me of that guy from Animal House…

  9. caroldee says:

    Bill saw the first wooly worm this year today in Cedar Springs in a parking lot of all places. I took a photo..light brown in the middle and black on both ends. Any idea what kind of winter you think it is predicting??? I looked it up and the way I interpret it..winter will not be a bad one. If we don’t have any significant snow until Jan that only gives us 4 months of winter.. I would be just fine with that!! LOL What say you?? :-)

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      There was a study done of the woolly worms and it showed that they had varying amounts of brown and black…so I guess they don’t agree on the weather for the coming winter either!

  10. Imthemom (just n holland) says:

    I seem to remember summer of 1964 going frequently to Caseville on the east shore of the Saginaw Bay. There was a area south of Caseville where the water was so low and far out that someone built cottages there. My father and grandma were very entertained because having lived in the area for 50+ years they knew the water level would go up again. It did and the little cottage subdivision went under water.

  11. INDY says:

    Bill great night for High School football can’t wait to go see Northview beat CederTucky tonight Swatzzee INDY is coming to your hood look out!! From hot apple sprites on this cold football night …INDYY..

    1. Jack says:

      Hey Indy… Swatzzee, Is in Grand Haven, She Heard you were Coming I Guess….. Just Kidding….. Enjoy ! ,! ;-)

  12. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Political partisanship is at an all time high and is very destructive to America.
    All lobbying should be banned and all political advertising should be banned. Take the money that all of the lobbyist and politicians are wasting and put it to good use!

    1. Jack says:

      Yup, Send it $$$$$$, My Way….. ;-)

      1. Swatz_Zoo(Cedar Springs) says:

        I stay away from CedarTucky events, especially the red underwear parade.
        It was FREEZING out at Grand Haven, not real happy with my pictures wish the wind was blowing in a different direction didn’t like the angle of the waves for photography. Oh well, but then again I can’t put my entire heart into photography when I have distractions of kids around, especially on the pier.

    2. Mike M. says:

      “Put it to good use” as defined by who? Why are you opposed to free speech? Americans have been at each other’s throats for 200 years. We’re a big hippie commune compared to the 1850′s. Partisanship is good. Partisanship is fun.

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:


        1. Mike M. says:

          Yeah, you’re definitely an Obama voter.

        2. big Daddy BC says:

          And you’re definitely a fudge covered nutter.

        3. big Daddy BC says:

          Your link puts the President comfortably ahead still. Thanks. ;)

    3. GunLakeDeb says:

      Rocky – you sound like you belong to *my* “Political Party” – the “Cynicals”. I don’t even think it matters WHO the President is – he’s not going to accomplish anything without Congress’ cooperation. Obama (or Bush) did not get us into debt – CONGRESS did by allowing the spending and adding billions of dollars of PORK to each bill. There is exactly ONE incumbent I intend to vote for – the rest are getting the AXE. Time for a big shake-up in DC. Time to get some people in office who are listening to the people and NOT the PACs.

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        All politicians are corrupt because the entire political system is corrupt!

        1. GunLakeDeb says:

          I’m willing to settle for “less corrupt”…ROFL!!!!

      2. Irish coffee says:

        ….prolly ’cause “power corrupts; absolute POWER corrupts ABSOLUTELY!”

  13. Jack says:

    ME FOR PRESIDENT…Can I Count on my Blog Family ? To Vote For ME…… ;-)

      1. Jack says:

        Thank- You, GunLakeDeb, or Should I Call You. Campaign Mgr…. Lol.. Peace… :-)

        1. joanne says:

          Who are you again?

        2. Jack says:

          Your Worst Nightmare… Or….. A Dream Come True…. Your Choice joanne !!… Vote For Me ! :-)

        3. big Daddy BC says:

          I think he’s INDY.

        4. Jack says:

          You’re WRONG AGAIN !!!! little Duddy bc..Keep Trying,Idiot.

        5. big Daddy BC says:

          Indy for sure. Who capitalizes ‘idiot’? LOL

        6. big Daddy BC says:

          Hilarious debate last night. The only poll I could find that put Eddy Munster up was CNN and theirs was within the margin of error. Further reading revealed that more repubs voted in it than dems. Almost every other poll I could find put the VP 10-20 points up. Have a look.

        7. Bill Steffen says:

          The AP Poll had Ryan 51% to Biden 43%. CNBC 50% to Ryan and 36% to Biden. CNN had Ryan 48% and Biden 44%.

          Keep watching the polls here:

          Read this:

        8. big Daddy BC says:

 reported two fake polls. One was the AP which didn’t exist. The other was the online CNBC poll which they reported out on prematurely. Biden won that one too as it turns out! LOL

          The only true polls that were done were CNN which put them at a statistical tie among voters. The other was the CBS poll which declared Biden the overwhelming winner among uncommitted voters.

          So before you go running off at the mouth about what a great job Eddy Munster did, check your sources. He lost.

        9. Bill Steffen says:

          Here’s a PEW poll: This poll is pretty much even (Biden won 47%, Ryan won 46%). What’s interesting about this poll is that independents gave the debate to Ryan by a 50-39% margin.

          This poll by Zogby: showed the candidates virtually even in ability to assume the Presidency…rather stunning given that Biden is the current Vice President.

          You can hardly call CNN “right wing”:

          The debate probably won’t sway any minds. Biden made the far left (see Chris Matthews and you) cheer with his debate performance, but I bet he turned off a lot of independent women, who saw him as impolite (more like a used car salesman laughing and telling you that Smart Car is totally safe…”no safety concerns here…just sign this”).

        10. big Daddy BC says:

          I don’t think he turned off more women than Romney with his binder full of women comment. LOL The man’s not fit to lead.

        11. Bill Steffen says:

          You’re milking a Dem./mainstream press talking point that doesn’t match reality. Romney is gaining ground among women:

 Romney up 7…Michigan and Pennsylvania now coming into play. Binders full of undecided voters now apparently in the Romney camp.

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