Great Lakes Water Levels Update

Bill's Blog

The pic. above was taken yesterday (Thu., Oct. 3) by Fr. Thomas Cavera of St. Patrick’s Church in Parnell (beautiful church…I’ve visited the elementary school there a couple times and I was impressed with the students – they asked adult level questions and were very interested in learning about weather).

There is a road that goes around the 8-mile perimeter of the island. This pic. shows not only water coming up on the road, but also watching enough rocks up on the road that you would have a hard time riding through there on a bicycle.

At a time of the year when the water levels should be falling, we’ve seen an increase in the water level of Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron.

Lake Superior Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake Superior is up 1″ in the last month, up 7″ year-to-year and is now 15″ above the October average water level. It’s still 1″ below the highest October level set in 1985.

Lake Michigan/Huron Water Level Graph

The water level of Lakes Michigan/Huron (one giant lake for lake-level purposes, connected at the Mackinac Bridge) is up 2″ in the last month. The level is up 16″ in the last year (that’s a lot! – each inch of water on Lake Michigan represents 390 billion gallons) and is now 35″ above the average October level. It’s still 7″ below the all-time record high water level set in Oct. 1986.

Lake Erie Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake Erie is down 4″ in the last month. It’s still up 8″ in the last year and is now 29″ above the average water level for October. It’s 5″ below the all-time highest water level set in Oct. 1986.

Lake Ontario Water Level Graph

Lake Ontario is down 9″ in the last month (less precipitation relative to average as you go east)). It’s still up 18″ year-to-year and is now 20″ above the October average level. The lake is 4″ below the highest October level, which was reached in 1945.

Lake St. Clair Water Level Graph

Lake St. Clair is down 1″ in the last month, up 10″ in the last year and is now 33″ above the average October water level. It’s 4″ below the record level, also set in 1986.

Riverside Park Boat Launch Fri. 10/4/19

I took this pic. Fri. PM at Riverside Park. There are some ducks on the left side of the pic. The water was flowing at a pretty good clip.

As of 6:45 pm Fri. – The Grand River at Grand Rapids has a flow of 14,100 cubic feet per second. That compares to an average flow for Oct. 4 of just 1,640 cfs. That means there is 8.6 times the volume of water passing through downtown Grand Rapids as average. That’s a lot of extra water.

Grand River at Grand Rapids
Graph of streamflow on the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids

The Grand River will be moving through Kent and Ottawa Counties from Saturday night through Sunday night.

The White River at Whitehall has a flow of 1,410 cfs, compared to an average flow of 300 cfs. The Muskegon River at Bridgeton has a flow of 5,130 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,670 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow this evening of 1,450 cfs, compared to an average flow of 580 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 4,840 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,039 cfs.

Same story in E. Michigan, the U.P. and eastern Wisconsin: The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 19,200 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,890 cfs (that’s more than ten times average flow!). The Manistique River at Manistique has a flow of 2,340 cfs, compared to an average flow of 778 cfs. The Fox River at Appleton, Wisconsin has a flow of 15,500 cfs, compared to an average of 3,110 cfs. All that water is heading into the Great Lakes and will keep water levels high through the winter and well into 2020.

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have well above average flow. The St. Clair River at Port Huron has a flow of 251,000 cfs compared to an average flow of 193,000 cfs.

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