Updated Great Lakes Water Levels

February 28th, 2013 at 7:17 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

   The picture here is the Big Red Lighthouse at Holland from “Deb” at ReportIt.  Check out the picture bigger than full screen.   Above average precipitation in the Great Lakes has brought lake levels up in the last few weeks.  Only Lake Superior, where temperatures have been below freezing (no snowmelt) has gone down 2 inches in the last month.   Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie are all up 2″ in the last month and Lake Ontario is up 3″ in the last month.   Lake Superior is one inch higher than it was last year on March 1.   Lake Michigan/Huron (the two lakes behave as one big lake – connected up at the Mackinac Bridge) is one foot lower than one year ago and 26″ below the long-term average.  Lake Michigan is now 2″ ABOVE the lowest March lake level, which occurred in 1964.  Lake Erie is 7″ below average and Lake Ontario is 5″ below average.   Again, I want to point out that if you hear that the reason that Lake Michigan’s (and Lake Huron’s) water level has dropped is the below average snowfall last winter…that statement is easily proved false.  Precipitation (rain and melted snow) was above average over much of the Lake Michigan/Huron basin last winter (less snow, but more rain) and precipitation over the basin has been above average for 7 of the past 12 years.  If you haven’t read them, you should read this article and this article.    You can check out Michigan stream and river flow here.  With cool temperatures over the weekend, we’ll continue to track the possibility for ice jams on Michigan rivers.

34 Responses to “Updated Great Lakes Water Levels”

  1. DF (SE Mich) says:

    This is good news since water levels still typically fall in February.

  2. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Cool weather history on the old normal from Detroit NWS today:

    On February 28, 1974, a tornado hit Wayne County at 5:25PM. Although the strength of the tornado was not recorded, this is still an impressive event to have happened in Michigan during the winter and is the earliest date of a recorded tornado in southeast Michigan.

  3. Nathan says:

    Wow, that 8 day forecasts looks very nice! Sunny every day… With highs in the forties next week! Rocky, I think we are done with the brunt of winter…

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Where have I heard that before?

      1. michigan won says:

        Rocky. You seem to think people don’t believe in winter. It did start late, and with good reason it was fair to wonder if it was “really” ever going get going. Even if these last six weeks had played out differently, it would still be winter and we would still have had snow and cold. It’s winter, we get it. I don’t know if you repeat it every 30 seconds for everyone on the blog, or just to remind to yourself. In either case, it’s now March 1st and the heart of winter is behind us. Happy travels in your search for a never ending winter.

        1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          I may repeat it every 15 seconds if the warm weather nuts keep telling me that nice warm Spring weather is on the way and that winter is over! We have lot of COLD and SNOW left, so get used to it!!

    2. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

      I would keep an eye out for mid month as always beware of the ides of March.

    3. Craig (Holland North Sider) says:

      I hope your right Nathan! Ready for some warm days to get rid of this snow. I enjoy the snow but once March hits I’m in spring mode.

      1. SBPortage002 says:

        Me as well…

  4. Tyler says:

    March is one of those months that seperates the lower Peninsula from the U.P. and Northern Lower actually. I use to go downstate for basketball tournaments in Late March and you guys are a month ahead of us as far as spring coming faster. Winter is over for good in places south of Mt. Pleasant. Winter hangs on till April in Northern Lower and almost till May up in places like Copper Harbor lol.

    1. Irish coffee says:

      Disagree somewhat….i’ve been snowmobiling in April here in sw lower Mi– but NOT regularly- so your point is well taken!

  5. Brian Rickert says:

    Wow cool people.Was wondering about that.Thanks for sharing.

  6. kevin. w says:

    Ya and hang around til early June when I was at my cousins cottage one year fishing and it started to snow late in the day early in June. I think the year was 1977 or 78 can’t really remember that far back on the year but will never forget it when we were coming in off the lake. We were fishing in snowmobile suits and couldn’t stop fishing because the fish were hitting like crazy. Never experienced anything like it but I do know that fish bite better when the weather is going to change. The day started out kinda cold and rainy but no mention of snow (it was early june) then a front moved through and it got very cold (unusually for june) then it started to snow half dollar size snowflakes. That day was very interesting weather wise but when in your in the north country anything can happen and probably any month.

    1. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

      June 9 1978 was a cold day in the UP (highs in mid 40′s) so that may have been your day. Other recent cold days in the UP even colder then that both had highs in the low 40′s were June 2 2001 and June 1 1999.

      1. SBPortage002 says:

        July 4, 2006 was cold at the Soo. Don;t know what the temp was but when you wear a jacket for fireworks then it was cold. I expected snowflakes or Santa any minute that evening.

  7. michael g (SE GR) says:

    Global warming causing blizzards and increase in global sea ice. Doublespeak.


    1. DF (SE Mich) says:

      Shhhh, don’t speak of the Antarctic…

      Quite few of the marquee sailboat, round the world, races had to significantly restrict how far south the boats could go south. Icebergs up to the Falklands this year in summer down there!!! Just nuts.

    2. GunLakeDeb says:

      That chart is interesting, in the thought that sea ice changes 10+ million square miles in a season!!

  8. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

    Welcome to March!!!! Looking back a little at February 2013 it can be said it was a very snowy month with GR reporting 33.1” of snow fall.(average is 14.8”) GR was -2.0 below average temp wise and total participation came in well above average at 3.05” (average is 1.79”) Not sure where the month ended in the snow fall rankings but the record February snow fall at GR is 41.6” not that far back in 2008.
    Now looking ahead to March. The record highest temp in GR was 87° set just last year. Last March was also the warmest March on record (50.7°) and the average is 35.6° On average we get 8.3” of snow in March, the snowiest was 36° back in 1965 there have been years when GR had no snow fall at all and last year GR had 2.8” The most snow in 24 hrs (13.6”) came on March 2, 2002 The coldest March was in 1960 (23.9°) and the coldest low in March was -13 on March 8, 1943. So you can see there can be quite the range of conditions in March.

    1. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

      BTW here is the updated CPC’s idea for March.



      1. DF (SE Mich) says:

        LOL, that is a HUGE change from a few days ago. The whole east coast was dark orange.

        1. Irish coffee says:

          Yeah, signals were there 8 or so days ago that Mar. didn’t appear anywhere near as abv avg as their progged mo. map

      2. michael g (SE GR) says:

        I’m sure Travis will describe that as a “scorcher”.

        Where is Brad with his forecast for 80*’s?

        1. Travis (Oakland County) says:

          Actually, that was your buddy Joe B calling for a blowtorch in March. Ooops!

        2. DF (SE Mich) says:

          Travis is correct on that one. :)

      3. GunLakeDeb says:

        Whew – a forecast of “normal” would be very welcome by the farmers!!

  9. kevin. w says:

    Yep thanks a BUNCH slim I do remember going up there on a 4 day weekend and leaving early in the week I couldn’t remember if it was a Friday or Saturday but it sure was a cold miserable day on the lake fishing. We got tired of siting in the cabin to keep warm but figured we were up there to go fishing. Was a very strange day and weekend in early June up there. Thanks for looking that up.

  10. Travis (Oakland County) says:

    DF, you’ll like this. Flint ended up having an exactly average month of February temp-wise after yesterday was factored in. Detroit finished February 0.9 below avg.

    Not much else to talk about I’m afraid. Dry, boring pattern is now in full effect. But it sure will be nice to have the sun back!

    Cooler than average this weekend, warmer than average next weekend.

    1. DF (SE Mich) says:

      LOL, I saw that… it was -0° though :)

  11. Nathan says:

    Bill, you said check out the picture bigger than full screen! How is that possible?

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      You have to scroll left/right and up/down to see the whole picture. It doesn’t fit on the screen.

      1. Nathan says:

        Your right, I just thought of it in a different perspective! 10th dimension?

  12. Nathan says:

    Btw, I didn’t say the snow was over with, but the frigid and continuously snowy weeks are over. Any snow that we do pick up will melt quickly and be very wet

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