The Latest Great Lakes Water Levels, Ice Extent and News

Bill's Blog

Snow cover Friday 3 20 20

The above map shows the snow cover over the Western Great Lakes on Friday, 3/20/20. There is a thick snow cover around Lake Superior. There is some snow in parts of N. Lower Michigan and there is no snow on the ground in S. Lower Michigan.

Snow cover Fri. AM in N. Lower Michigan: 11″ near Mancelona, 7″ Vanderbilt, 5.5″ E. Jordan, 2″ Benzonia, 1″ Fife Lake

Snow cover in Upper Michigan: 51″ Painesdale, 42″ Grand Marais, 37″ Munising, 35″ Marquette (airport – less in the city), 34″ Hancock, 28″ Calumet, 24″ Newberry, 19″ S. Ste. Marie, 4″ Manistique.

Mackinac Bridge webcam

Here’s a pic. from the Mackinac Bridge webcam Fri. afternoon. You can still some some ice. Traffic has been light.

The graphs below reveal plots of the current year’s daily lake levels (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) per month as documented here along with additional water level data.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Superior

The water level of Lake Superior is down 2″ in the last month. That’s because the precipitation over the past month has been snow and not rain. That snow will melt and when it does, a good portion of the runoff will get into Lake Superior. Lake Superior’s water level is unchanged in the last year, but it’s still 13″ above the March average level. It’s still 2″ below the record March monthly level set in 1986.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Michigan/Huron

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron (one lake for lake level purposes) is unchanged in the last month, but up 14″ in the last year. The level is more than 3 feet (37″) above the March average level. It’s now 4″ higher than the previous March highest monthly average level, which was set in 1986.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Erie

The water level of Lake Erie is up 2″ in the last month and up 11″ in the last year. The lake is 34″ higher than the average March level and it’s now 3″ higher than the previous March average high record level of 1986.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Ontario

The water level of Lake Ontario is up 4″ in the last month and up 9″ in the last year. The lake is 20″ higher than the March average water level. It’s 7″ below the record highest March water level set in 1952.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake St. Clair

The water level of Lake St. Clair is up 4″ in the last month, up 11″ in the last year and it’s now 37″ above the average March water level. The lake is 2″ higher than the previous record high March monthly water level, set in 1986.

International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie

The pic. above is Friday PM at the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie (Michigan and Ontario). No vehicles at the bridge, no people. You can see the snow on the ground.

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have well above average flow. The St. Clair River at Port Huron has a flow of 259,000 cubic feet per second and that’s 145% of average flow.

Rainfall Thu. night in West Michigan was significant, but not excessive: 0.94″ Ludington, 0..90″ Muskegon, 0.83″ Rockford, 0.79″ Fremont, 0.55″ Holland, 0.51″ Grand Rapids, 0.42″ Lansing, 0.24″ Kalamazoo and 0.18″ Battle Creek.

The Grand River in Gr. Rapids has a flow of 6,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 6,970 cfs. The flow on the Kalamazoo River at Comstock is exactly at the average flow of 1,390 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 5,660 cfs compared to an average flow of 5,250 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton (they had more rain in the Muskegon River basin) has a flow of 4,140 cfs compared to an average flow of 3,150 cfs.

Great Lakes Ice Extent

The Great Lakes has a 5.2% ice extent. There is no ice on Lakes Erie, Ontario and St. Clair. The ice in Lake Michigan is in Green Bay, Little Traverse Bay and up by the Mackinac Bridge.

Great Lakes News: High water level causes S. Haven Marina to close for the year. Lake Michigan water level forecast. Lake Michigan to set a new record. Great Lakes parks closing because of the coronavirus. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has temporarily made public access to all state parks and recreation areas free. More trout being released. Ohio closes lodges at state parks. Walleye population skyrockets. No big weddings or trail races at state parks. Bill to address shoreline erosion. Michigan tourists now have a new resource that shows up-to-date conditions at public beaches on Lake Michigan. Great Lakes shipwreck films. Asian carp update. First ship of the season arrives. Great Lakes bird update. Flood Watch for Lake Superior. The Coast Guard is ready.

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