Latest Great Lakes Water Levels

Bill's Blog

The water levels of the Great Lakes remain quite high, but are below record levels. The high winds last Thursday caused the water level of Lake Michigan to rise about one foot (temporarily – when the winds subsided, the water level went back down to the level before the strong winds). The peak waves at the buoys were 12.1 feet. The combination of the wind-driven rise in lake-level and the big waves caused significant beach and dune erosion in places and a few spots had some lakeshore flooding.

Here’s graphs of the water level of each lake. the lines on the map reveal plots of the current year’s daily lake levels (darker blue) compared with last year’s levels (black) and last year’s annual average (dark red). The monthly averages are shown as a step plot through the daily averages. Plotted in the background are the coordinated (official) averages (green), record highs (cyan), and record lows (brown)

Graph of the water level of Lake Superior for 2019

The graph above shows the water level of Lake Superior, which is up one inch in the last month and up 3″ in the last year. The level is 15″ above the average October level and 1″ below the record water level set in 1985.

Lake Michigan/Huron water level graph for 2019

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron (one big lake for lake level purposes) is down 1″ in the last month, but 14″ higher than one year ago. The lake(s) is (are) 32″ above the average October level, but 9″ below the record level set in 1986.

Lake Erie water level graph for 2019

The water level of Lake Erie is down 8″ in the last month, but up 6″ in the last year. The lake is 24″ higher than the average October level, but 8″ below the record October water level set in 1986.

Lake Ontario water level graph for 2019

The water level of Lake Ontario is down 8″ in the last month, but up 16″ in the last year. It’s currently 16″ above the average October level, but 10″ below the record October level set in 1945. You can see that the water level peaked in June and has been falling steadily through the summer and early fall.

The rivers that connect the Great Lakes all have well above average flow and that’s going to continue into next year and perhaps beyond. The St. Marys River at S. Ste. Marie has a flow of 101,000 cubic feet per second. The St. Clair River at Port Huron has a flow of 216,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 186,000 cfs.

Most rivers in the Great Lakes Region have above average flow: As of early Sun. 10/20 – the Grand River at Grand Rapids has a flow of 5,890 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,000 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 5,570 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,070 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 2,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,340 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at New Richmond has a flow of 1,910 cfs. Average is 1,510 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 3,950 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,010 cfs. The Fox River at Green Bay WI has a flow of 11,600 cfs compared to an average flow of 3,240 cfs.

Great Lakes News: Algae blooms showing up in inland Michigan lakes.…but algae in Lake Michigan is decreasing. Michigan receives 9 million dollars to clean contaminated lakes. Good news for Muskegon County. Perch supply shrinking in Great Lakes. 20,000 sturgeon released into Lake Michigan. Long-lost wreckage discovered.

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