Great Lakes at Record February Levels

Bill's Blog

Lake Michigan pictures just south of Muskegon from our GasBuddy, Patrick DeHaan

The pictures above come from our GasBuddy, Patrick DeHaan. This is Lake Michigan, just south of Muskegon. You can see the difference in the lake level in just the past +8 months. Here’s another picture from Patrick. This is the same beach back in 2013. Look how much beach has been lost in 6 1/2 years:

Lake Michigan shore 2013 from Patrick DeHaan

Four of the five Great Lakes are at record February water levels. River levels are high in the Great Lakes basin and the ground is saturated, so a higher percentage of precipitation gets to the rivers and eventually into Great Lakes.

The water level of Lake Superior is down 3″ in the last month (it’s been below freezing around Lake Superior and the snow has remained on the ground, with river levels falling. That’s typical for mid-winter). The level of Lake Superior is 3″ higher than one year ago and is 15″ higher than the average February level. The level is 1″ higher than the record February level set in 1986.

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron (these two lakes are at the same water level – connected at the Mackinac Bridge – Straits of Mackinac) is up 1″ in the last month (a time of year when the lake level is usually falling). The level is 18″ higher than one year ago – a huge rise. It’s 39″ higher than the average February level and 6″ higher than the previous February record level set in 1986. The Lake Michigan water temperature at Holland MI is 34 deg.

The water level of Lake Erie is up an astounding 9″ in the last month! The level is 14″ higher than one year ago and it’s now 37″ higher than the February average. It’s also 6″ higher than the previous record high February level, set in 1987.

The level of Lake Ontario is up 6″ in the last month and up 7″ in the last year. It’s 20″ higher than the average February level, but it’s 6″ lower than the February record level, set in 1952.

The level of Lake St. Clair is up 7″ in the last month, up 17″ in the last year and is now 43″ higher than the February average. The lake is 3″ higher than the previous record level.

The rivers that connect the Great Lakes are all well above average flow and the flow is higher than last week. The St. Mary’s River flowing out of Lake Superior into Lake Huron has a flow of 85,400 cubic feet per second. The St. Clair River is at 250,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 161,000 cfs. The Detroit River at Detroit is up to 274,000 cfs.

Grand River in Comstock Park – January 2020

The Grand River in Grand Rapids has a flow of 8,460 cfs compared to an average flow of 3,610 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 6,400 cfs, compared to an average flow of 3,210 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 8,550 cfs compared ton an average flow of 3,610 cfs and the Fox River at Appleton, Wisconsin has an average flow of 7,980 cfs compared to an average flow of 3,620 cfs.

Great Lakes ice cover 2/8/20

Great Lakes Ice Cover is well below average, but is increasing. Lake Michigan is up to 12.3% ice covered – with most of that ice in Green Bay and up toward the Mackinac Bridge. While ice extent is lower than average this year, keep in mind that ice extent has been above average in four of the last six recent winters.

Great Lakes Ice Extent Historic

GREAT LAKES NEWS: Lake Michigan ends January 4″ higher than the previous record level. ” businesses flooded; roads and sidewalks crumbled; beaches washed away; parks were rendered unusable. Docks that boats previously couldn’t reach because the water was too shallow are now submerged. Water approaching homes near Manistee. First record high level since 1987. Many lakeshore homes for sale. Drone view of the eroding lakeshore. Lack of ice on Lake Superior. Turning plastic trash from the Great Lakes into clothing. Anglers oppose wind turbines in the Great Lakes. Homes along Lake Michigan threatened. Scientist says the rise of fall of the Great Lakes water levels is nothing new (so true). Coast Guard warning. Algal sludge. The Lake Erie monster. Great Lakes birds eating microplastics. Apostle Islands ice caves inaccessible this year (so far). Michigan fishing restrictions. Bird Blast. Coast Guard ship now in Alabama. Lake Michigan shipwreck.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Weather Tools