National Weather Service watches lakeshore closely

Ottawa County

HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — The National Weather Service is keeping a close eye on erosion at the lakeshore as Lake Michigan continues ravaging the shore line. 

“People are seeing decks and other things fall into the lake. (We) haven’t seen any homes fall in yet, but that’s everybody’s concern,” NWS hydrologist Andrew Dixon said about the damage surveyed.

Homeowners report seeing high lake levels all summer. The NWS says this summer’s lake levels were just inches from the record high.

“There’s kind of two things that have been happening at the lakeshore now that we’re in this season of fall storms. There’s the lakeshore flooding aspect, which is actual flooding of the beaches along the lakeshore and also on the inland lakes,” Dixon said. “The more substantial piece is the erosion to the dunes and the bluffs.”

Some homeowners estimate losing more than 100 feet of land over the course of 2019 — a large chunk of that this fall. The NWS credits the combination of already high lake levels and years of substantial rain.

“The single biggest factor is that for the past five years or so, we’ve been getting a lot more rain than normal. They’re wetter-than-normal years and so what happens is all of that water has to makes its way into Lake Michigan and the other Great Lakes,” said Dixon.

The weather service says the lake has not yet reached the record highs of 1986 when homes fell into the water. They say as more fall storms roll in, it’s likely only more damage will come.

“That’s the challenge of it: there’s not a whole lot that can be done,” Dixon added.

Some homeowners have installed sea walls and rock walls to keep the waves at bay.

The NWS plans to continue monitoring the impact of the fall storms.

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