Great Lakes Water Levels (and more)August 14th, 2014 at 8:36 pm by Bill Steffen under Bill's Blog, News, Weather
The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is unchanged in the last 2 weeks and unchanged in the last 4 weeks. However, the level is 16″ higher than it was one year ago. That’s the biggest one-year change on Lake Michigan/Huron that I have ever seen. Since each inch of water represents 390 billion gallons…that means an increase of 6.24 TRILLION gallons of water in just one year. The lake remains 3″ below the long-term average and 28″ above the lowest August water level in 1964. Lake Superior is unchanged in the last month and 9″ above the level of one year ago. Superior is 6″ above the century average. The biggest of the Great Lakes is 26″ above the lowest water level in August, set in 2007 and only 6″ below the highest August water level set in 1952. Lake Erie is down one inch in the last month, up 4″ in the last year and 6″ above the long-term average. Lake Ontario is down 5″ in the last month, down 1″ in the last year, but still 4″ above the century average. Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month, up 11″ in the last year and it’s now 7″ above the long-term average. Lake Superior’s outflow down the St. Mary’s River into Lake Huron is expected to be “well above average” through August and into September. The outflow from Lake Erie down the Niagara River and over Niagara Falls is expected to be above average for the rest of the summer. (Picture of Lake Michigan from the awesome Michelle Olin)
OK – first, one of my favorite quotations from H.L Mencken: “The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.” Now – on to my featured article this week, this time from the Montreal Gazette. I encourage you to read the article and see how that matches the reality in my first paragraph. Now, look at the date, August 13, 2014 – so this article came out Wednesday of this week. The article starts: “Climate change experts predict that water volumes and levels in the St. Lawrence River Basin will continue to dwindle over time.” Now, is the water level of the Great Lakes “dwindling”? – obviously no. The writer continues: “It is already nearly impossible to manage water levels in the basin simply by discharging water stored at the Sault-Ste-Marie, Welland-Niagara, Cornwall and Beauharnois dam complexes. We’ve never been able to completely manage water levels. In fact, we sometimes get in trouble when we do try and overmanage nature (dredging in the St. Clair River, building a nuclear power plant where they get severe earthquakes and tsunamis and letting people live 10 feet below sea level on river silt where they get hit by strong hurricanes and storm surges). The article continues: “The levels of Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are already some two feet or 60 centimetres lower than normal.” NO THEY’RE NOT!! The lakes are 3″ below “normal” NOT TWO FEET! The other 3 Great Lakes are well above normal. It goes on to say: “In a report this past June titled Lower Water Blues, the Mowat Centre of the University of Toronto conservatively assessed medium-term economic impacts at about $20 billion. I wrote about the Mowat study 2 weeks ago. The $20 billion figure is of course highly suspect, since the study was based on flawed input. (But it could scare you into allowing them to take a lot more of your money). The “dam solution” to all, the author says, will cost only 6 BILLION Dollars. (Hot dang, we “save” 14 billion dollars!!).
The updated latest weekly Great Lakes water levels are available on the web (no password, no pay wall, no “use Mike’s trick to hide the increase”) from the Army Corps of Engineers every Thursday evening.