2020 won’t bring relief from high Great Lakes water levels — and they
could be even higher than this past record-shattering spring and summer.
generally rainy September, measurements by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
show every Great Lake, and Lake St. Clair, well above long-term
monthly average water levels for October — almost 3 feet higher on
connected lakes Michigan and Huron (35 inches) and on Lake St. Clair (33
inches). Lake Erie is 29 inches above long-term October
averages, Lake Ontario 20 inches above and Lake Superior 15 inches above.
now predict Lakes Michigan and Huron will start 2020 at 11 inches higher than
water levels in January 2019, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed
hydrology at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.
latest forecast extends into March, and for the most part, levels are going to be
on-par with or above where they were at the same time last year,” he said
records go even higher next summer will be determined by factors such as
snowpack and whether heavier-than-usual rains occur for a fourth straight
spring, Kompoltowicz said.
Superior, Lake St. Clair, Lake Erie and Lake Ontario set new record high
water levels over the summer, with lakes Michigan and Huron an inch or less off
their 100-year highs. In July, lakes Erie and Ontario broke their monthly
records by more than 4 inches.
region, that led to flooded campgrounds and streets along Great Lakes connected
waterways, caused boating problems with submerged structures, and
caused shoreline erosion that all but eradicated some Lake Michigan
Spooky-high water levels for October
September across Michigan has the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair well above
their long-term average levels for October. It’s potentially helping set the
stage for another record-breaking spring and summer of water levels next year.
across the whole Great Lakes region, that period of January to June this year
was extremely wet,” said Lauren Fry, technical lead for Great Lakes
hydrology at the Army Corps’ Detroit office, who’s currently serving as a visiting
scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes
Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor.
started to see less precipitation in July and August. But water levels really
came up early because of that spring and June precipitation. The lakes take a
little while to respond to changes. “The interconnected nature of the lake
system also plays a role in region-wide rising water levels, Fry said.
level of Lake Erie is high, that’s going to influence the level of the Detroit
River,” she said. “And that’s going to propagate into Lake St Clair,
on up into the St. Clair River and eventually Lake Huron.”
of climate change on Great Lakes water levels going forward isn’t clear.
Historical data shows temperatures in the Great Lakes region are rising faster
than the rest of the continental U.S., and winter and spring precipitation,
particularly via strong storms, is increasing. Those trends are expected to
continue. But modeling also shows hotter summers and less ice cover on the
Great Lakes in the winter, which will tend to increase evaporation.
Now it all
comes down to winter and spring rain and snowfall.
see another winter with a very healthy snowpack, coupled with the flooding
rains that we saw last spring, then we would be dealing with even higher
record-breaking water levels next year,” Kompoltowicz said.
precipitation levels would keep lake levels well above their historic averages,
“It would take a fairly dry season, and even year, to bring things down,” she said.
Keith Matheny Detroit Free Press Oct. 11, 2019
While good for shipping and recreational boating, rising water levels bring the prospect of more erosion, less beachfront property and more skirmishes over private property rights.
TNS Regional News
Dec 11, 2014
Federal scientists said Wednesday they are fairly confident the 15-year era of low Great Lakes water levels is over. Apply for quick cash via this link http://www.smallquickloans.org
The changes mean a return to normalcy for cargo shipping, recreational boating, and fewer costs associated with those sectors of the economy. The rising water levels also bring the prospect of more erosion, less beachfront property, and more skirmishes over private property rights.
Drew Gronewold, hydrologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, said the recovery for Lake Superior is the most rapid on record and the fastest since the 1950s for Lakes Michigan-Huron.
The semiannual forecast he and others released during a conference call with Great Lakes writers calls for more steady rises through May. They said they can only predict six months into the future and recognize the instability of climate change can be a real wild card, though.
During the call, scientists said they expect the upcoming winter to cast a more familiar spell on the Great Lakes region — cold, but not nearly as bone-chillingly frigid or snowy as last winter, with temperatures and precipitation that will be more typical because of a 65 percent chance of an El Nino weather pattern forming.
“This winter will not be like last winter,” James Noel, service coordination hydrologist for NOAA’s Ohio River Forecasting Center, said. “It will be much closer to normal.”
Even this fall, there has been a “very unusual” steady increase in Lake Superior and Lakes Michigan-Ontario water levels. Autumn is a time when lake levels typically start to recede because of how differences between air and water temperatures accelerate an evaporation process that continues until the lakes freeze.
Those lakes, which flow southward, are the driving forces behind Lake Erie’s average water level, which was 7 inches greater in November than it was that same month in 2013 and 6 inches above its long-term average. Scientists expect it will be 5 to 11 inches above its average May, 2014, level by next May, and continue to be 6 inches above its long-term average, Keith Kompoltowicz, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers watershed hydrology chief in Detroit, said.
Though they shied away from policy implications in other areas, scientists said during their briefing that the Great Lakes shipping industry welcomed a return to normal water levels this year because of how much more expensive it was carrying lighter loads for 15 years. Every inch of water lost costs the region millions of dollars in delayed shipping and extra trips.
Marinas won’t be under as much pressure to dredge with stabilized water levels. Scholars of water law, including those who have spoken at the University of Toledo in recent years, have said a couple inches more water can intensify battles over shoreline development and property rights, especially when higher water reduces the amount of beachfront property.
At last month’s annual Great Lakes water law symposium at UT, one panel focused on a national debate over coastal wetlands. Two U.S. Supreme Court rulings have failed to resolve which connecting ditches and streams are protected by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rules. Scientists agreed there likely will be wetter marshes if there are higher lake levels, but they declined to speculate how they could affect the national wetlands debate.
For the most part, scientists who presented the hydrology data seemed impressed by the region’s rapid recovery in water levels, though a bit perplexed by how quickly it occurred, given how some trends take years to reverse.
This November’s mean for Lake Superior was the highest since 1997, Mr. Kompoltowicz said.
But Mr. Noel cautioned of greater variability in precipitation with a warming climate system, from storm surges to droughts.
“It is really a challenging question,” Mr. Gronewold said of long-term modeling for Great Lakes water levels under various climate scenarios.
By Tom Henry – The Blade, Toledo, Ohio (TNS)
©2014 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)
Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory: October 10, 2014
This time of year is normally the season when Great Lakes lake levels begin to fall. Typically evaporation is greater than precipitation and runoff from rivers and streams. So there is normally less water going into Lakes Michigan, Huron, and Superior at this time of year. On Lakes Michigan-Huron July is typically the high water month. Lake Superior usually sees peak water level in July or August.
This year is different.
Lakes Michigan-Huron, and Lake Superior have continued to rise, even up to now.
Lakes Michigan-Huron have risen 3.1 inches since July. Normally those lakes would have dropped 2.8 inches since July. Lake Superior has risen 1.8 inches, while normally dropping 1.2 inches since July.
When we look at the current rise in levels on Lake Michigan-Huron versus the normal fall, we may have just gained almost six inches. In other words, if all of the rest of fall and winter go exactly normal, Lake Michigan-Huron will start next season’s water rise six inches higher than last spring. And that’s if everything is normal.
Lake Michigan-Huron is heading toward its peak water level in this month of October. If Lake Michigan-Huron peaks this month, it will be only the fifth time in the last 155 years the high water mark is in this fall month, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.
Lake Michigan-Huron has never had its high water mark in November. If that happens, we really know we have a bizarre weather pattern.
Last weekend’s rain was big
In looking at the lake levels over the last seven days, Lake Michigan-Huron has risen 1.3 inches and Lake Superior 1.4 inches. The rise is due to the widespread heavy rain received late last week and this past weekend. Look at the rainfall map. All of the surface of Lake Michigan had over one inch of rain in the past week. Northern Lake Michigan had over three inches of rain on it. That’s a quick way to bring water levels higher.
The addition of 1.3 inches of water in Lake Michigan-Huron represents 1.4 trillion gallons of water. The 1.4 inches of new water on Lake Superior equals 770 billion gallons.
With another widespread rain system coming early next week, Michigan’s Great Lakes water levels should hold steady, or even rise more.