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Four of five Great Lakes expected to hit record-high water levels in coming months

Lake Erie at Massie Cliffside Preserve.
Rebecca Williams
Michigan Radio
Lake Erie at Massie Cliffside Preserve.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects Lake Erie to hit record breaking high water levels February through May.

Lauren Fry, Technical Lead for Great Lakes Hydrology with the Army Corps of Engineers, says Lake Erie’s all-time record water level for January was nearly met last month.

“Our forecast is showing the potential for new record-high water levels during the months of February, March, April and May,” Fry said.

The Corp’s monthly water level summary says Lake Erie’s water level was seven inches higher in January of this year than it was in January 2019.

More from the Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes water level summary from January:

Lake Erie commenced its annual water level rise in January, rising 5 inches to a monthly mean level of 573.49 feet. This level was 7 inches above its January 2019 level and 31 inches above its LTA level. The lake experienced significantly above average net basin supply in January as a result of increased snowmelt and a higher fraction of precipitation falling as rain - both attributable to above average temperatures in the basin. The current 6-month forecast indicates that Lake Erie will continue its seasonal rise through May. Lake Erie is predicted to set new monthly record-high levels from February to May, but fall 2 to 4 inches below record-highs in June and July. It is also forecasted to be 2 to 11 inches above last year’s levels through May and 2 to 4 inches below last year’s levels in June and July.

Fry says people living off the lake shore can expect seiche events, high winds, some shoreline erosion.

“You have these kinds of conditions at all water levels, but when we’re at high water levels, those impacts are particularly impactful,” she said.

Fry says Lakes Huron, Michigan, and Superior will also have nearly record breaking levels through May.

While Lake Ontario isn’t expected to break any all-time records, it is “expected to be 7 to 12 inches higher than they were last year from February to April, but 8 to 18 inches lower than they were last year from May to July.”

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Bryce Huffman was Michigan Radio’s West Michigan Reporter and host of Same Same Different. He is currently a reporter for Bridge Detroit.
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