Great Lakes Water Levels

February 16th, 2013 at 2:06 am by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

   Much of Michigan and E. Wisconsin has had above average precipitation over the past 2 1/2 months.  Here’s precipitation surpluses since Dec. 1:  Grand  Rapids +2.93″, Muskegon +4.94″, Lansing +1.91″, Houghton Lake +3.84″, Alpena +2.41″, Green Bay +2.97″, Milwaukee +3.74″, Marquette +0.55″.  Runoff into Lake Michigan has been above average flow.  We’re seeing an effect on the water level.  Lake Michigan (and Lake Huron – they’re at the same water level, connected at the Mac. Bridge) is up 2″ in the last month and is now 1″ higher than it was in Feb. 1964 (the low water year).  The lake is down 13″ year-to-year (that was 17″ at one point) and 26″ below the century average.  Lake Superior is now 2″ higher than it was one year ago and remains 12″ below average.   Lake Erie is unchanged in the last month and 5″ below the century average.  Lake Ontario is UP 6″ in the last month (quite a climb for mid-winter) and is 3″ below the century average.  We’ll likely see above average precipitation again in the next week.    Thanks to Jack Martin for the picture of the St. Joseph Lighthouse, sent in to us on ReportIt.  Take a look at Jack’s picture full screen.

Last week I wrote about how the claim that the very large drop in the water level of Lake Michigan/Huron was due to a lack  of snow last winter was suspect, since we have near to above average precipitation last winter (less snow, but more rain).  Here’s another article from Meteorologist Mark Torregrossa that says the same thing.  Also, wind  turbines to be placed in the Great Lakes.   Many of the biggest Great Lakes ships are overwintering in Milwaukee.  And…could Lake Erie freeze over for only the 2nd time since 1996.

10 Responses to “Great Lakes Water Levels”

  1. Jack says:

    Wow, Awesome Pic. Once Again from ( my name sake, Lol ) Thank- You Mr. Martin. The Lighthouse looks Like something out of the Roman Empire ,! Also some great Reading on the great lakes Ships, ECT. Hoping and Praying that The Lakes Water Level will Rise Soon. ;-)

  2. Jack Marin ( Fennville, Michigan) says:

    Your welcome! Yes it was quite an awesome sight! Thank You Bill as always also! I hope that some of these levels get back to near normal again soon too! Very good reading on the ships!

  3. roger says:

    With the massive amount of new housing built around the Great Lakes in the last 20 years how much more water are we pulling out of the lakes for our use?

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      First, beware of any article or graph that compares the 1970s to the present. Please go here and look at the graphs: http://blogs.woodtv.com/2011/01/25/january-temp-by-decade/ Note how you could easily get a different impression by looking at the first graph than you would from the second graph. The coldest decade of the last 100 years was the 1970s. If you start comparing ice cover on the lakes in 1979 (after 3 cold winters in a row, we had the greatest ice cover ever on Lake Michigan: http://blogs.woodtv.com/2009/01/20/will-lake-michigan-freeze-over/) to the present, the graph may be going up from the lowest spot to a spot closer to what would be a 100 or 200-year average.

      Second, the record of the water level of Lake Michigan shows no relation to the linear increase in CO2 in the atmosphere: http://michiganlakeinfo.com/files/2010/04/lake-level-graph.jpg The lowest lake level was in 1964, then the lake level rose to a record in 1986, now we’ve come back down close to 1964 levels.

      The claim that lower snowfall last winter contributed to the lower lake level is easily debunked. While snowfall was lower, total precipitation was higher (more rain, less snow). Precipitation in G.R. is above average for the last 24-month period. Precipitation does not explain the drop of 17″ in one year. They have now admitted that dredging the St. Clair River did drop the lake level +12″ and a Canadian study concluded that most of the recent drop can be explained by the dredging. The study estimated a much higher drop due to dredging of up to 20-30″.

      I will also add that the other Great Lakes have not shown such a precipitous drop, despite having equal evaporation rates and ice cover rates relative to average. Lake Superior is one inch HIGHER than it was one year ago (and 29% of the equation for the water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is the water coming down from Lake Superior), Lake Erie and Lake Ontario vary greatly over the course of the year. Lake Erie is now 7″ below average level. Lake Ontario is now 5″ below average level. One year ago at this time, Lake Erie was 12″ ABOVE average level and Lake Ontario was 11″ ABOVE average level. At one point last year Lake Erie was at 17″ above average level and they were worried about beach erosion. As I said, those two lakes vary quite a bit.

  4. Judy says:

    And how much water is being diverted to raise the Mississippi water levels? Probably MUCH more than what is supposed to be, since they are whining about the river levels being too low.

  5. Tom says:

    In the 60′s -70′s the big lakes were high with massive erosion of lake property/houses falling into the water, not a good sight; large sums of money being spent for sea walls or defenses in hope of preventing loss. The levels finally dropped, helping eliminate property loss, among other things. We are at the beginning of this century; I would be willing to bet in the next 20 years the levels will rise along with issues and problems associated with it.

  6. Brad says:

    I like lower levels. More beach! How much water do we need anyway?

    1. Jack says:

      Hmmmm, ain’t that a Beach, Brad. ;-)

  7. Lisa (Caledonia) says:

    SkyWarn 2013 roll call! Who is here? :) …or was there if you’re reading this after?

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