Great Lakes Water Levels

January 2nd, 2014 at 7:35 pm by under Bill's Blog, News, Weather

muskegon glerl  chicago glerl These pics. are from the Muskegon GLERL camera and the Chicago GLERL camera, which is located 3 miles east of downtown Chicago (the Harrison Crib water intake) The Muskegon pic. was taken Thurs. at 3:20 PM and the Chicago pic. at 2:10 PM (one of the few pics. today that you could see anything – they had some heavy lake-effect snow showers down Chicago way today.  Click on the pics. to enlarge or click here for Muskegon and here for the Chicago pic.

Lake Superior is now back to the long-term average…so only Lake Michigan-Huron (which is a single lake for lake-level purposes, as the 2 lakes are connected at the Mac. Bridge and are at the same water level) is now below the long-term average.  Remember, more than one study has shown that the reduced level of Lake Michigan-Huron is mostly or completely due to dredging in the St. Clair River.  According to this article in the Milwaukee Journal “The St. Clair has been heavily dredged for over a century, and the federal government has long acknowledged that this human meddling in the riverbed has led to a permanent drop of about 16 inches from Michigan and Huron’s long-term average.  Alarmed by the fact that even the lakes’ peak levels had been below that average line for several years, a Canadian conservation group created by property owners from northern Lake Huron’s Georgian Bay hired its own engineering firm to conduct a study of what was going on in the St. Clair River back in 2004. That study said the water lost from the lakes by expanding the river channel was actually much greater than 16 inches – and getting worse.”

Here’s the increase in water level for 2013:  Superior 12″, Michigan-Huron 14″, Erie 10″, Ontario 11″ and St. Clair 14″.  Superior is down 2″ in the last month (not surprising…it’s been too cold up north to melt anything and Superior is still mainly open water and there is some evaporation) and Michigan-Huron is down 1″ in the last month.  Lake Ontario is up to 2″ in the last month, Erie is up 4″ in the last month (a lot for Dec.) and Lake St. Clair is up 3″ month-to-month.  Lakes Erie and Ontario are now both 2″ above their century average, Lakes Superior and St. Clair are exactly at average and Lake Michigan-Huron is 14″ below the long-term average.

Also, there’s more ice on the Great Lakes today (1/2) than any 1/2 since 1989.   a pilot’s view of the ice at Grand Haven and Hollandlast winter’s pic. of the ice balls on Lake Michigan…and, here’s a link to a blog article containing the map (click on the map) showing the last time the Great Lakes were more than 95% ice covered in 1979.  According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab at Ann Arbor, Lake Michigan has never completely frozen over.   In the coldest winters, (1903-04, 1976-77 and most recently 1978-79) Lake Michigan was more than 90 percent ice-covered, but in 76-77 and 78-79, pilots said there was always some open water in the middle of the lake.  Lake Erie is most likely to freeze over, despite the fact that it’s the southernmost of the Great Lakes, because it’s the shallowest (max. depth 210 feet, average depth 62 feet — compare that to Torch Lake (NE of Traverse City) has an average depth of 111 feet and a maximum depth of 285 feet) of the Great Lakes.



10 Responses to “Great Lakes Water Levels”

  1. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Amazing! When will we hear about the incredible Lake Superior rise to the 100 average in the news?

    1. Brian(Grandville) says:

      Anne Thompson is all over this one! Not. She’s still stranded on a sand bar in Lake Erie, at least she thinks she is.

  2. Nathan (Forest Hills) says:

    Thanks for the information Bill. Btw, Matt said on FB that the low tonight may be -7!!

  3. yooper4021 says:

    Per Marquette NWS Facebook page:

    Green Bay has completely frozen over as of the past couple days, effectively making Menominee and Escanaba land-locked locations with the closest open water >25mi away.

  4. Paul (Yankee Springs-Barry State Game Area) says:

    It’s 9:11, and only at 0……thought it would be colder by now. Left work in Byron at 7pm, saw the motionless trees and clear skies, and figured I would need to bring in extra wood for the stove tonight.

  5. Barry in Zeeland says:

    Funny. If you click the link Bill provided to the blog article of the last time the lakes were frozen, you read the comments and low and behold there is Randy(Rockford)…known today as Rocky(Rockford), hollering the same exact things as he does now, a couple years later. Got a chuckle out of that.

  6. Storm waning says:

    Does anyone know the last time west mi had a blizzard lasting more than 30 hours?


    1. Jack says:

      Still Looking for That Storm Warning !! IHowever I Did FInd This. Which I Thought Was INTERESTING To Say The LEAST!! SEE HERE::: 1972 Iran blizzard[edit]
      The 1972 Iran Blizzard, which caused approximately 4,000 deaths, was the deadliest blizzard in recorded history. Dropping as much as of snow, it completely covered 200 villages. After a snowfall lasting nearly a week, an area the size of Wisconsin was entirely buried in snow.[6].

  7. Psalmon says:

    It’s great to see these facts published, kudos to you Bill. Rarely people follow up on all the hype.

    The data also suggest Lake Superior will freeze over this year. A 2.5 deg C average surface temp on Jan 1 compared to past ultimate percent ice cover maximums says all ice. The polar vortex coming down and pattern in general will help speed it along. That should help too.

  8. kate bishop says:

    is this happening also on the shores at Ludington Michigan?

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