Update on the Water Levels of the Great Lakes

Bill's Blog

Water levels on the Great Lakes remain at record or near record levels for May (except for Lake Ontario).

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Superior

The water level of Lake Superior is unchanged in the last month, but the level is down 5″ in the last year. Precipitation has been running below average in the Lake Superior basin. Marquette MI has had 82% of average precipitation this month, Sault Ste. Marie MI has had 81% of average precipitation since May 1 and Duluth MN has picked up just 35% of average precipitation since April. Duluth has had just 71% of average precipitation since Jan 1. With less precipitation, the water level of Lake Superior has fallen since May 2019. This means the water coming down the St. Marys River into Lake Michigan/Huron has dropped a bit…currently 96,300 cubic feet per second. This is good news for those dealing with high water levels on Lakes Michigan, Huron and Erie. The water level of Lake Superior is still 10″ above the May average level, but it’s 6″ below the record May level set in May 2019.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Michigan/Huron

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is also unchanged in the last month. It’s 2″ higher than one year ago and 34″ higher than the May average level. The lake(s) is 3″ above the May record level set in 1986. Grand Rapids MI has had 118% of average precipitation since Jan. 1 – following the wettest year ever in 2019. Muskegon MI has had 138% of average precipitation since Jan. 1. The grass is green in Lower Michigan.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Erie

The water level of Lake Erie is unchanged in the last month and at the same level as one year ago. The lake is 28″ above the May average level and at the same level as the record May level set last year.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Ontario

Despite the fact that Lake Ontario is 13″ above the average weather level for May…it’s 17″ below the record high May level set in 2017. The lake is up one inch in the last month, but down 14″ in the last year.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake St. Clair

The water level of Lake St. Clair is up 2″ in the last month and up 2″ in the last year. It’s 31″ above the average May level and 2″ above the current record May monthly average level, also set last year.

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes continue to have above to well above average flow. The St. Clair River at Port Huron has a flow of 251,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 191,000 cfs.

Most rivers have come up with the rain that we had Thursday and Thursday night. The Grand River at Gr. Rapids has a flow of 6,880 cfs, compared to an average flow of 4,630 cfs. The Muskegon River at Evart has a flow of 1,530 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,320 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 1,870 cfs, cmpared to an average flow of 1,050 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 4,900 cfs, compared to an average flow of 4,050 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 8,900 cfs, compared to an average flow of 6,000 cfs. In Wisconsin, the Fox River at Green Bay has a flow fo 11,800 cfs, compared to an average flow of 7,540 cfs.

Great Lakes Ice Extent at 0%

Great Lakes ice extent as declared 0.0% on May 14. The graph of Maximum Ice Cover on Lake Michigan has now been updated to include 2020:

Graph of the annual maximum ice extent on Lake Michigan

The maximum ice extent on Lake Michigan this past winter was 17.2%, the lowest value since 2012. The lowest since records began as 12.4% in 2002. The highest ice extent on Lake Michigan as 93.1% in 1977.

Also: Video of fog coming off Lake Huron. Rate hike for DTE Energy: A requested rate hike from DTE Energy for $351 million was reduced to $188 million by the Michigan Public Service Commission. This will amount to an additional $4 per month added onto their energy bills. Why is the sand purple? Installing flood barriers as the lake continues to rise. Test your knowledge of the Great Lakes with this quiz. Police chase over the Mackinac Bridge. Experts say humans can’t control the Great Lakes water levels. River otters returning. Steel production in the Great Lakes down 11% this year and falling. Rescue. Smaller algae bloom this summer. Dredging on the Grand River. Copious amount of debris in Lake Michigan putting boaters and swimmers at risk.

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