Great Lakes Water Levels

February 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by under Bill's Blog, Weather

chicago glerl   Lake Michigan Winter Sunset Grand Haven Click on the pictures to enlarge. The picture on the left was taken Thurs. morning from the GLERL camera, 2.8 miles out in Lake Michigan at the Chicago water intake (Harrison Crib). The second picture is from Bruce Bylsma showing the sunset at Grand Haven. For the last couple minutes of the day, the sun was able to shine underneath the low overcast lake-effect clouds. Check out the Lake Michigan MODIS satellite picture here and you can see where the cloud line was, about 55 miles west of Grand Haven.

The water level of Lake Michigan is up 2″ in the past month (you can see that the flow on the Grand River remains well above average).  I was a little surprised at this, because it’s been so cold that we haven’t had much runoff into the rivers.  Lake Michigan is up 14″ year-to-year and is now 13″ below the century average.   Lake Superior is down 3″ in the last month (it’s really been cold – everything frozen in place – up there) but still up 12″ year-to-year and exactly at the long-term average level.  A 3-inch drop for Lake Superior in January is average.   Lake Erie is down 2″ in the last month, up 3″ in the last year, and is now 2″ below the century average.   Lake Ontario is up 2″ in the last month, up 6″ in the last year and 2″ above the long-term average.

GLERL reports that Great Lakes ice cover has reached 70.7%.  Maximum ice cover was 38.4% in 2013 and 12.9% in 2012.  The highest percentage of ice cover on the Great Lakes was in late February 1979 at 94.7%.  If we hang onto the cold pattern into the first two weeks of March and if we don’t have a lot of wind to break up the ice, it’s not impossible that we could come close to the 1979 record…two big “if’s” though.

While it probably won’t make a lot of difference, we’re going to see a more significant winter die-off of the Emerald Ash Borer, perhaps up to 50% in Michigan in areas where the temperature has dipped to -20°.

78 Responses to “Great Lakes Water Levels”

  1. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Here are the lake level charts and forecasts.

    I think their forecasts are WAY too low considering the snow pack.

  2. DF (SE Mich) says:

    Here are yesterday’s ice cover maps. Superior, Erie and Huron pretty much frozen over.
    East lakes:

    West lakes:

  3. Wswplz says:

    Wow…!! That sunset pic is amazing…kinda forgot about those since I moved out to Michigan from living on the ocean in San Diego.

  4. Wswplz says:

    Thanks again Bill for sharing your wisdom..And have a blessed day.

  5. John (Holland) says:

    Are we going to see a significant die-off of ticks this winter? The growing infestation up here has really put a damper on my summer recreation.

  6. Wswplz says:

    I don’t quite understand why on the ice coverage map ( 1979 )it shows less ice coverage along the shore of Lake Michigan….when this seems to be the opposite of how the ice is forming today….my only guess would be waves breaking it up along shore? But that really doesn’t make sense either….

    1. Jeff says:

      The ice on our shore goes out a few hundred yards, then there’s open water then ice and so on, at least that’s how it was a few weeks ago when we walked on the ice to about the level of the pier head

      1. Wswplz says:

        Ahh..thanks for the info Jeff..I was thinking about heading to the lake to walk out on the ice..where would you recommend I go

  7. Jack says:

    Here is a Old John Prine Song that Came to Mind Today, while Walking to Get My Mail. Tune Entitled …” Please Don’t Bury Me” CUE & Enjoy Happy FRYday !!

    1. Brenda (Otsego) says:

      Love John Prine!

  8. Jacob G. says:

    Hi Res 12Z Euro showing some better phasing for end of next week with 986MB storm by Cleveland. I wrote about this a couple nights ago on possibly phasing with this northern and southern pieces of energy. However this is only the first run to show some signs of another S. Great Lakes storm. Stay cued….as some might say.

      1. Jacob G. says:

        Right now snow with heaviest axis from Indy to Detroit. Heavy wet snow though and lots of wind…

        1. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

          This is good. I’d rather it show up south at this time and allow it some room to move north. Of course, it could just continue this winter’s track through Indiana…

    1. Wswplz says:

      Ya I noticed that was hinted at a few days ago, well at least both steams were mentioned in the same forecast, which seamed it could be plausible if we did indeed get some better phasing from both systems. I know when we get these type of events it seems like that mesh point is so critical to what the percip is and where.. Do you have any feelings one way or the other, or way to early to speculate..

      1. Wswplz says:

        Sorry, I see some of my question was already answered…my bad..I sometimes get tunnel vision when I see the mention of a possible storm for

  9. GunLakeDeb says:

    Killing Emerald Ash Borers (and hopefully Pine Beetles) is a good thing; but I wonder how beneficial creatures like bats are faring in this bitter cold?

    1. Brenda (Otsego) says:

      Fine in my friend’s attic! Lol.

  10. Wswplz says:

    Can someone help explain why Joe B referred to this year as La Niña ( and I’m not quoting him directly, for it was something I read in an earlier post ). But I was under the impression that the ENSO was neutral at this time…or is it correct to say we are experiencing a weak La Niña….perhaps that was the reference?

  11. Ansel says:

    3 days to Feb 10th….. another JEM let down?

    1. Jack says:

      Don’t Let It Bring You Down It’s only Castles Burning….. PER::: Neil YOUNG……stay CUED!!!! ;-)

      1. Ansel says:

        It does bring me down, I want more snow

        1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          Ya right!

  12. Matt (Spring Lake) says:

    I would love a summer that is like winter in the south…60s and 70s most of the time with an occasional day or two of chill and snowflakes. It would make winter not seem so far away…and I wouldn’t feel like dying from heat exhaustion. :)

    Check out the forecast for San Antonio: 30 some degrees warmer tomorrow than today…and 40 degrees warmer on Sunday! 70s would feel HOT though…

  13. kevin. w says:

    Ok officially solar winter has ended and the sun angle is higher so it will start to warm the southern states and you’ll be able to feel its warmth on sunny days. Still think we have some warmer air coming somewhere after the 20th-25th that will give us some nicer milder melting weather. The EPS operational model, GEFS and the super ensemble EURO are all in pretty much in agreement on a switch to a milder pattern for the last week of Feb.into early March. The driving force of this is a powerhouse Asian storm just now getting into and slamming Japan with hefty snows, blizzard and flooding. This storm will eventually change the pacific jet stream allowing buckling out in the pacific and in turn developing a ridge in the southeast allowing warmer air to be pumped into the eastern 2/3rds of the nation. I think we have one more big storm in the east toward the end of next week, probably going up the eastern seaboard and that will put us in the 15th day mark. Once that leaves will have a brief trough in the east followed on the back side of the high and strong low out west for both to work on a warmer pattern. Now some models want to give us a big rainstorm with flooding while others want nothing to do with it and give us several days of sunny, windy southwest winds and good melt with no flooding. Will have to see how this unfolds as some of the operational models have been hinting at this for over a week now. Will just have to wait and see but usually what happens in Japan mostly gives the United States a pattern shift with such a strong storm. But something to look at in the next week to two weeks time frame.

  14. Wswplz says:

    So from what I here from your reading we ” could “have a mild and slow warm up with no storms or flooding…so is this just for the next10-14 days as you elude to..( out to then 20-24ish )? And if that is your general hypothesis than what has happened to all the flooding, blizzards, ice storms etc and basic all around destruction you have been talking about since early January. Are we somewhat in the clear or is that still to come down the road in March??

    1. kevin. w says:

      The some models hint at a wet storm out in the two week mark and some just show no storm with just a nice easy melt. I think it depends on how the PNA and the southeast ridge interact with one another. It does look like the cold heads back toward Alaska at the end of the month. Can’t put anything on a stormy pattern toward the last week of Feb. but with the deep snowpack we have high potential for flooding.

  15. SW Kent says:

    What a beautiful FRYday.
    23 inches of snow and blue sky!
    Praise God.

  16. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Boy a lot people on here are trying to talk themselves into a warm up with rain! Get used to it people! We are entrenched in a COLD and SNOWY pattern with no change in sight! The ensembles that are showing a major warm up in about 2 weeks or so will be proven wrong! Yes we will have a slight warm up with a lot of SNOW! We are only 17 inches away from the second SNOWIEST season on record in GR! Bring it! FANTASTIC!

  17. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    This one is for fixxxer jr aka TomKap! The latest CPC shows COLD and SNOW right through Feb 21st! Enjoy all of this COLD and SNOW because we will be getting hammered baby!

    1. fixxxer says:

      your like a broken record kiddo. no one gives a crap what you say.

  18. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    Mark it down! We will have a brief warm up near the end of February and then right back to below normal temps for most of March! The Southeast ridge will build and arctic air will be right on our doorsteps and the conveyor belt of SW SNOW STORMS will be funneled right at SW Lower MI! Get ready for a wild ride with SNOW, SNOW, ICE and more SNOW! I love it!

    1. fixxxer says:

      just because you want it cold all year round doesn’t mean that will happen. quit your half assed predictions, they make you look stupid. everybody knows we will start warming up. face it, the worst of winter is about done.

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        Thanks for listening and providing me with more material! The worst of winter is over? You have got to be kidding me! Keep telling yourself that!

        1. Dingid Forester jr. says:

          One day Rocky, you’re going to mistakenly leave your keys inside while going out to get the morning paper in your pajamas, only to realize that you have locked yourself out. After a few hours of trying in vain to find a way back inside, hands throbbing and tears streaming down your face, you will be singing a different tune about the glories of winter.

  19. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    It is a great day outside today. I love the temperatures that we have been having for the last 6 weeks and we have a lot more on the horizon! It will be a great weekend for winter sports! Get outside and enjoy WINTER! Next week looks like another week with below average temperatures! Imagine that! Who knew?

  20. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Just measured snow depth is at 27″ and season total is at 103.1″

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Sounds AWESOME!

    2. kevin. w says:

      Almost 3 inch + plus in that snow pack hopefully we don’t get that 2-4 inch rain this spring. Got the camera ready for all the new lakes out there.

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        Good – maybe MI won’t be in a drought this Sprig and Summer! I love it!

  21. John (Norton Shores) says:

    Most of the models have been hinting at quite the warm up in a couple weeks, and have been showing a warm up for a few days now so I’m beginning to wonder maybe well be in for a pattern flip beginning the end of February which could possibly be the start to some warmer weather, so maybe just maybe Acculess weather is correct, time will tell

    1. John (Norton Shores) says:

      Sorry Rocky it’s just my warm prediction, I could be wrong

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        If you are basing it on Acculess – I guarantee that you will be wrong. We have a TON of SNOW yet to come this winter! Lets review the facts – we have 6 weeks of winter left! SNOW, SNOW, SNOW!

    1. kevin. w says:

      Yep thats a pattern changer and you can see here how the cold is back in Alaska and we have a southwestern flow as all ensemble models are on board. Plus its getting that time of the year when the southern warmth does its work and gets moving to the north. Ya thats a potential snowstorm to add to the potential flood, so ya keep the snows coming cause I want to see if we can beat some of the previous floods. Hope we get a couple more big snows I would like to come down to comstock park and the grand river to do some comparison pictures of previous floods.

  22. on the Grand says:

    I have not seen this much solid ice and snow along and on the river, I am on the Grand River across from Spring Lake High School. I will tell you, THERE will be flooding. The Grand is frozen solid right up to the bridge, pass the railway bridge and right through to downtown Grand Haven and pass the lighthouse and six miles out into Lake Michigan. There is NO where for the water to go and NOT IF but when the ice breaks up there WILL be major ice jams and the water will then start to spread outwards along the river bends and bayous and islands. It is not a pretty sight or a fun feeling and there is nothing you can do because once the river starts to rise and the ice starts to move there is no way to stop it. I suggest that if you happen to live in a flood area anywhere, you look into flood insurance and prepare your place. Last year Grand Rapids had a bad time and a few years back Spring Lake and surrounding areas had a tough time because of the ice and water. I cried a lot because it is heartbreaking to think in a short time you will lose everything and there is nothing you can do but watch because you just cant hold back the mighty river. I pray every day for sunshine and a slow melt and no heavy rain.

  23. Jack says:

    GREAT JOB !!! Tv 8…. For Your “Live” Broadcast this Evening !!!! The ONLY Thing Missing Was Bill Steffen on Ice Skates !!! Thanks, again … 2 ALL OF WOOD TV 8 ,, Crew & Cast ! God Bless , and, Stay Cued & Warm ! :-)

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      +one trillion! Now bring on a JEM special!

  24. kevin. w says:

    snow…snow..snow..floods…floods…floods… we have at least 6 to 18 weeks of snow,ice,heavy rains,flooding then will get into the severe weather with wind damage and tornadoes. Lots of rough weather with alot of damage to…Just the facts.

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Good this should help the lake levels!

  25. INDY says:

    36 more inches of snow coming tomorrow should be close top that Rocky spot 100!! FRom drink ing heavy sprites on this Friday night ..Who want’s party>? INDYY……..

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Yes by the end of this weekend we should be around 94 inches! Who would of thought?

    2. kevin. w says:

      I’m hoping after we have set record cold and snows spring will come and will have all kinds of lakes to name.

    3. Jack says:

      Party ?? Answer your Phone…..INDY!!!! Hehehhehe ……staying Cued !!!!

  26. Rocky (Rockford) says:

    >>>>LATE BREAKING NEWS>>>> By the end next week GR should reach 100 inches of seasonal SNOWFALL! Imagine that! Who knew? Get ready to ROCK people!

    1. kevin. w says:

      I hope we do get alot more snow it would be great even all the through April and a white Easter would be great to. Love to see the snow piles last through middle of June.

      1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

        Yes and I would absolutely love a monster SNOWSTORM in April! Currently I am planning on skiing in April this year and I would love to still see SNOW piles on Memorial day!!

      2. mk says:

        Why is rocky quoting Stuart Hoffman’s last words more bring it!!!!

      3. SlimJim NW GR (1) says:

        While there is a good chance that there will be snow piles for Easter all snow piles will be long gone way before June.

  27. Dan says:

    What is the projected date for that big snow storm?

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      One SNOWSTORM after another, beginning on Feb 15th! Get ready to ROCK!

  28. Dan says:

    A record breaking winter for sure!

  29. INDY says:

    Well after over 2 months of flood talk kevin has gone of the travass hill of warmth!!!floods mud stuck will not happen!!!!!! Ask travass how the seasonal warmth has been for MICHIGAN!! FAIL! From my 29 inches of snow on the ground doing fine with my sprites lights candy and ice!! INDYY/////

    1. Rocky (Rockford) says:

      Any warm temps will be short lived and then we will head right back to below average temps and above average SNOWFALL! We have at least 6 more weeks of COLD and SNOW to go! Get used to it fixxxer jr! Who knew?

      1. TomKap (Michigan St. & Fuller) Grand Rapids says:

        wow. it’s official. you’re insane.

        1. Dan says:

          TomKap is a psychologist? He can determine if people are insane from a blog post. who knew? I think it is insane to begin a countdown for the end of wintet on early December! ok depressed then! Forget the fact that he calls people crazy who like Winter. Gosh it must be miserable….medication should be considered, TomKap and thats a wrap!

        2. Dan says:

          * winter in

        3. Rocky (Rockford) says:

          Dan + one trillion gazillion!

  30. Jack says:

    JEM model Update and or Next Prediction for an ” OLYMPIC SIZE” Snow Storm IS FEB. 15 – 20th ? Stay CUED for More updates and of Course CUES!!! USA!!!! USA!!! USA!!! ;-)

  31. Wswplz says:

    Kevin by no means am trying to discount your opinions as to what might happen with our weather in Michigan, and I understand completely that what you post has absolutely no bearing on the outcome . I’m also sure that some of the things you speak of may happen, and as you have stated ” it’s just the facts “. Just as many on this blog, including myself often wish for snow, knowing all the while that our wishes won’t steer a south moving storm north, no matter how much we would like for this to happen. But I’m having a hard time understanding ( and maybe you can help explain ) why on earth you want more snow , only to help add water content to aid in a MASSIVE FLOOD so you are able to take pictures, a KODAK MOMENT. Further more to use those pictures as a comparison to the flooding we had last year…..why would you wish for this?

  32. Dingid Forester jr. says:

    I had heard rumors that the navy corps of engineers were planning on salinating Lake Michigan to a level of 40-45 ppt around late June of this coming summer. Once all aquatic life has ceased, a pipeline to Georgia will be constructed in which 100,000 gallons of brine water per minute will be pumped down south to aid in the fracking efforts of the grand vision of the Governor, in which he foresees a Georgia that will be completely energy self reliant with an intricate complex of geothermal heat pumps in place around the state by 2015. If this is a success, not only will Lake Michigan have much larger beaches due to substantially lower water levels, but this may serve as a model for the state of Michigan itself to adopt and implement. Imagine having an endless supply of energy by simply tapping into the geothermic energy beneath our feet. We live in exciting times, this is for sure.

    1. Mark (East Lansing) says:


      1. DF (SE Mich) says:

        Prove him wrong or it the truth. Isn’t that how these nut conspiracies work ;)

    2. Wswplz says:

      Ya right…sorry but that sounds just as you say…a rumor….and kill all things in fresh water…..not a chance

    3. Ned S. (East of Holland) says:

      Not a chance! The people will not put up with a scheme such as this.

  33. Irish coffee says:

    Some locations in no. CA are progged to receive 6-10″+(liq. equiv.) over the next week—that will sure help w/ drought

  34. Harry says:

    Yes, increased snow cover will increase water levels but ice is just frozen water with trapped air and when it thaws will actually lower water levels… gawd, these climate change weathermen are pushing the envelope of trying to scare the lofos…

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