Great Lakes Water Levels

Bill's Blog

Eroding Bank north of Algoma, Wisconsin – Sept. 2019.

It’s been a couple weeks since I wrote about Great Lakes Water Levels. As is often the case in late summer and early fall, the levels have dropped a bit.

Lake Superior Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake Superior is unchanged over the past month. It’s up 6″ from one year ago and is now 12″ above the average September level. The lake is tied for highest September level ever – last reached in 1985.

Lake Michigan/Huron Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron (one lake for lake level purposes) is down 2″ in the last month, but up 14″ in the last year. The lake is 30″ above the average September level and is now 4″ below the record September level of 1986. Note: there were 11 dam failures in Michigan during the Flood of Sept. 1986 and damage was estimated at half a billion dollars (in 1986 dollars).

Lake Erie Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake Erie is down 5″ in the last month. However, it’s up 9″ year-to-year and still 28″ above the average September level. The lake is 2″ above the previous Sept. record level – also set in 1986.

Lake Ontario Water Level Graph

As you can see in the graph, the water level of Lake Ontario has had a nice drop since early July. The lake is down 11″ in the last month and is now 8″ below the Sept. record level set in 1947. Lake Ontario is up 20″ year-to-year and is 19″ above the September average level.

Lake St. Clair Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake St. Clair is down 4″ in the last month, but up 10″ in the last year. The lake is 30″ higher than the September average level and is 1″ above the previous all-time record level set in 1986.

The Soo Locks (from Army Corps of Engineers)

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have well above average flow and that will continue well into 2020. The Detroit River at Detroit has a flow of 255,000 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 190,000 cfs.

Rivers in Michigan and Wisconsin have mostly above to well above average flow. The Grand River at Grand Rapids is at 4,560 cfs compared to an average flow for Sept. 24 of 1,600 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 2,050 cfs compared to an average flow of 1,160 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 739 cfs, compared to an average flow of 530 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 2,340 cfs compared to an average flow of 1,980 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 3,910 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,580 cfs.

In Wisconsin, the Fox River at Appleton has a flow of 14,300 cfs compared to an average flow of 2,580 cfs. So, the river is carrying roughly 5 and a half times the average flow.

Great Lakes News: Enbridge installing supports for Great Lakes oil pipeline. Strong winds made the open of the 2019 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Offshore Regatta very challenging. Fragments of long-lost ships are being flung ashore on Michigan beaches. New future for 3rd oldest lighthouse on the Great Lakes. 118 year old shipwreck found. Fort Sheridan, Illinois – I’ve visited here and it’s very nice. My mother’s USO group entertained troops there during WWII. Washington Island, Wisconsin. Mapping the bottom of the lake. Finding a meteorite in Lake Michigan. Going thru Lock 1. Michigan Maritime Museum to get 8 million dollar expansion. Migrating monarchs. 15 wolves on Isle Royale. Lighthouse sold for 159K. Restoring reefs in Traverse Bay.

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