Lake Michigan/Great Lakes Water Levels

April 25th, 2013 at 8:23 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

Grand River Flood April 2013   Grand River Flood – helicopter view from WOOD-TV (more helicopter pics. here).  Click on the picture to enlarge.  The water level of Lake Michigan climbed 3″ in the past week.  That’s after going up 3″ in the previous 6 days.  So, the water level of Lake Michigan has jumped up 6″ in the last 13 days!  That’s a remarkable increase!  An inch of water added to Lake Michigan is 390 billion gallons.  So, a 6-inch increase means we have added 2.34 TRILLION gallons of water to the lake (and 2.4 trillion gallons to Lake Huron)!  With area rivers still at very high levels, we’ll likely add another 2″ to that in the next week.  We’ll have very little precipitation in the next 5 days and evaporation rates should be back to average.  The past two weeks have also been cloudier than average, with relatively high humidity, cutting down on evaporation.  Ice cover hung on until today in Green Bay.  So other factors have been favorable for increased lake levels.   See the thread below on the satellite pictures where you can actually see the muddy water of the Grand River extending at least 5 miles out into the lake and moving down the shore past Holland with the prevailing NW wind today.  Lake Michigan is up 8″ in the last month, but is still down 7″ year-to-year.  It’s 21″ below the century average for April, but now 9″ above the lowest April level back in 1964.   Question…if the lake levels go up significantly, will we be able to do less dredging?

Lake Superior is up 1″ in the past week and up 3″ in the past month.  Superior is still down 2 inches in the last year and is now 11″ below the century average.  Much of the snow around Lake Superior hasn’t melted yet (snow cover Thurs. evening:  38″ Hoist Basin and Atlantic Mine, 29″ 1.6 miles ESE of Houghton, 28″ Marquette Airport, 17″ Munising,  11″ Ironwood…in NW Wisconsin: 18″ Bayfield, 21″ at Upson (home of the famous horserace track, Upson Downs)…in Minnesota:  19″ Duluth, 14″ International Falls, 26″ Finland, 25″ Island Lake…with deep snow north of Lake Superior in Canada:  37″ Hearst, 20″ Atikoken, 18″ White River and Geraldton) and Superior is likely to add 2-3″ just from snowmelt in the next 2-3 weeks.  Lake Erie is up 6″ in the last month, but remains 6″ below the century average.  Lake Ontario is up a whopping 9″ in the last month and is now only 2″ below the century average.  Lakes Erie and Ontario should go up in the next few weeks with average rainfall and more inflow from the 3 Great Lakes upstream.

Great Lakes News:  Asian carp DNA in the Great LakesForum on the water level of Lakes Huron & Michigan (“Among the suggestions why levels are dropping are the widening and deepening of the St. Clair River where it flows out of Lake Huron, more water-taking on both sides of the border and climate change.” – note what’s #1 on the list), and an eco-friendly new road in Whitehall.

Also - look how cold the water is in Lake Michigan.

13 Responses to “Lake Michigan/Great Lakes Water Levels”

  1. michael g (SE GR) says:

    Off topic, but I’m glad I’ve reached the point where the Lions’ stupidity doesn’t bother me anymore.

  2. cbm says:

    My neighbor thinks we are going to lose the water to India or china or even somewhere ele in the US. I hope we are not that dumb.

  3. Barry in Zeeland says:

    Wow, those are some crazy helicopter pictures! Did tv 8 always have that remote controlled chopper, or is that a new toy? Came in pretty handy for the pics.

    1. Cort S. says:

      It’s the less sinister application of drone technology. I love it when new tech is used for good purposes.

      1. Skot says:

        I’ll be Back!!

  4. tinab says:

    All I can say is where in Lake Michigan did it go up? I live in Holland and can’t see it higher yet…hummmm

  5. Travis Ulberg (West of Martin, Allegan County) says:

    I was at my grandparents house, and they live on a lagoon of Gun Lake and it’s amazing how much higher the water is now compared to what it was last summer. I would say that it is at least a foot higher today than it was 8 or 9 months ago. The water was only a couple inches from going over the walls of the lagoons in some places. And with them living on the lagoon with such a high water table now, they still have standing water on the roadside of the house.

  6. Jill C. says:

    Regarding the eco-friendly “new” road in Whitehall: that’s the road I slid off last December one of the first mornings we had a little ice. Still getting my winter “wings,” I guess. (I really should’ve kept to the main road – Mears – or left my Mustang in the garage!) The pavement changes grade several times at intersections along that stretch and there’s a curve shortly before you hit the one-lane underpass. (Road passes under what used to be a railroad trestle and is now part of the bike path.) I didn’t hit the bridge, but I did take out a sign indicating the low clearance ahead. :( For now I’ll give the eco-friendly road surface the benefit of the doubt and shoot for new tires before next December!

  7. Nate says:

    The last bit with the insinuation that deepening the canals is the main reason of the three given is kind of BS. If something like that is going to be put in an article, where are the numbers to back it up? All three are human influences though, which says we should have more care in what we do an how it affects our world.

    1. Bill Steffen says:

      There have been two engineering studies that came to that conclusion and an official with the Army Corps of Engineers admitted that dredging the St. Clair River has reduced the water level of Lakes Michigan and Huron. This is also supported by the factual dismissal of both a lack of winter snow the past 2 winters (total precipitation was above average the past two winters) and the fact that overall precipitation is average for the past +2 years (while Lake Michigan dropped 17″). A quote from this article: http://www.grandhaventribune.com/article/299771” “According to Tom O’Bryan of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, dredging in the St. Clair River has resulted in a drop in the lakes’ long-term average by about 10-16 inches.” http://www.uswaternews.com/archives/arcsupply http://www.jsonline.com/news/wisconsin/pressure-mounts-to-restore-great-lakes-water-levels-f76ug5a-170854881.html http://www.glerl.noaa.gov/pubs/fulltext/1985/19850006.pdf

  8. RuthW says:

    My dad, using ancient wisdom of a farmers kid, never believed in this Global Warming. He used to say that the earth is just going through a phase that normally happens about every 40 years or so. He told us kids, watch…it’ll come back to normal soon. I am not so naive as to think that human pollution has no effect on the environment, but I do think there is some merit to my dad’s philosophy, that it may just be partly, a phase in the lunar line-up.
    Even down here in Amarillo, our normal snowfall for the season is 17.5″ and this past winter we got just over 29″ for the season. Though we are still in drought conditions due to past years of not enough precipitation, so far, it looks like we’re on a slow bounce back.
    (Just an FYI…I am a Grand Rapidian by blood…born and raised and I will always have one eye & half a brain (lol) on my home state/town. Between my husband and I, we have 5 kids and 9 Grandkids still up there. We have only moved to Texas a year ago.)

  9. Ned S. says:

    I was up at the Mission Point Lighthouse the other day. It reminds you of low tide on the ocean. The water level is so low.

  10. GunLakeDeb says:

    I’m watching the Carp DNA reports with fear – it seems that whatever invasive species is in the Great Lakes – eventually, it comes to Gun Lake. Aside from the lakefront dwellers being taxed at a higher rate to get rid of the invasive species like Eurasian Milfoil; I can’t imagine an all-sports lake having Carp that get irritated by boat motors and jump in the air :-( People will get hurt!

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