Great Lakes Water LevelsFebruary 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, Weather
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°.