Great Lakes Water Levels and News

Bill's Blog

Great Lakes water levels remain high, but are down year-to-year.

Graphs of the water levels of the Great Lakes

The water level of Lake Superior is down 3″ in the last month and down 4″ in the last year. Each inch of water on Lake Superior represents 550 billion gallons, so a loss of 4″ means a loss of 2.2 trillion gallons, lost through evaporation and out the St. Mary’s River. Superior is still 9″ above the average November level, but is 8″ below the highest November level set in 1985.

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is down 1″ in the last month and down 2″ year-to-year. The lake is 31″ higher than the average November level, but is now 7″ lower than the highest November level reached in 1986.

The water level of Lake Erie is down 3″ in the last month and down 2″ in the last year. Erie is 24″ higher than the November average and now 9″ lower than the November record highest level set in 1986.

Lake Ontario is down 4″ in the last month and down a whopping 17′ in the last year. Ontario is only 2″ higher than the November average level and is 2 feet below the highest November level, which occurred in 11945.

Lake St. Clair is down 4″ in the last month and down 3″ in the last year. The lake is 27″ higher than the average November level, but 8″ lower than the November record level set in 1986.

St. Marys River, Michigan

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes continue to have above to much above average flow. The St. Marys (no apostrophe, I guess) River has a flow of 93,800 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 76,000 cfs. The St. Clair River has a current flow of 263,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 192,000 cfs. The Detroit River has a flow of 269,000, compared to an average flow of 196,000 cfs. (pic. from EGLE)

The Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids, Mich. (Spring 2020)

Inland rivers are a mix. The Grand River in Grand Rapids has a current flow of 2,930 cfs, compared to an average flow for Nov. 21 of 2,540 cfs. That’s 115% of average flow. The Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 1,600 cfs, very close to the average flow of 1,680 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 890 cfs, compared to an average flow of 799 cfs. The St. Joseph River has a flow of 1900 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,620 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 2,220 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,180 cfs.

Over in Wisconsin, the Fox River at Green Bay has a flow of 14,300 cfs, compared to an average flow of 4,140 cfs. That’s more than 3 times the average flow. Green Bay has had above average precipitation again this year. Since Sept. 1, Green Bay is +1.78″ above average and since Jan. 1, Green Bay is 5.52″ above average.

GREAT LAKES NEWS: Cool pics. of sand sculptures. Dog food made from Asian carp. Record number of waterspouts. Phenomenal fishing. Interactive map of Great Lakes lighthouses. The latest from Boatnerd. A long-term fix for high water levels? Another record year for shipment of wind turbines at the Port of Duluth. Friends group raising funds to place universal access kayak launch on Hamlin Lake in Ludington State Park. The wooden schooner Denis Sullivan may never sail again. Woolly adulgid invasion. Emergency coastal stabilization project. With erosion a concern – MDOT is keeping an eye on M-116. Overall tonnage across the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System is down 7.9 percent compared to this time last year. High water levels and wave events increase safety hazards on Great Lakes. As Great Lakes pummel Michigan, beach towns rush to set development rules. A record-breaking number of rescue missions this year. Three drownings in Lake Michigan this past summer and more than a dozen water rescues has prompted City Council members in South Haven, Michigan, to form a committee to examine whether changes need to be made to the current beach and water safety plan. What lies beneath the water in the Milwaukee harbor? Shipwreck discovered in Lake Ontario. Sunk in 1886. Eagle Tower nearly complete. Steelhead fishin’ in November. There is an abandoned German cargo boat shipwrecked in Lake Michigan. Huge waves. 48 acres of nature along Lake Michigan will soon be open to the public. Trout stocking by helicopter. Coast Guard offers winter advice. Migrating birds crash into skyscrapers.

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