Record Near/Record High Water Levels on the Great Lakes

Bill's Blog
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Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair continue to set record high water levels for May – the other Great Lakes also have levels significantly higher than average. 

Lake Erie rose a whopping 11″ in the last month.  It’s 9″ higher than one year ago and is now 30″ (2 and a half feet!) higher than the average May level.  The level is at 574.41 ft. above sea level and chart datum is at 569.20 ft.  The lake is now 4″ higher than the previous record May level set in 1986 and it’s 65″ higher than the lowest May level set in 1934. 

Lake St. Clair is up 12″ in the last month and is up 11″ in the last year.  It’s 31″ above the May average level, and is also 4″ higher than the previous highest level for May set in 1986.  It’s 59″ higher than the lowest level for May set in 1934.

Lake Superior is getting close to a record high level.  It’s up 5″ in the last month, up 8″ in the last year and is now 14″ above the average May level.  The level is only 1″ above the record May level also set in 1986.

Lake Michigan/Huron is up 8″ in the last month, up 9″ in the last year and is now 26″ higher than the May average level.  It’s still 6″ below the highest May level of 1986 and 55″ above the lowest level recorded in May back in 1964.

Lake Ontario is up a whopping 20″ in the last month, up 12″ in the last year and is now 21″ above the average May level.  It’s still 9″ below the highest level set just 2 years ago

The biggest reason for the high water levels is above average precipitation.  For 2019, here’s how far above average precipitation these weather stations are:  Grand Rapids +4.23″, Muskegon +6.06″, S. Ste. Marie +6.96″, Marquette +5.95″, Chicago (Midway) +4.40″, Toledo +2.70″, Erie +2.21″, Buffalo +4.10″.  We’ve also had well above average ice cover on the Great Lakes in four of the past six winters.  That lowers evaporation.  We’ve also been on the cool and damp side.  

River flow remains higher than average:  Grand River at Grand Rapids 9,790 cfs (average is 4,670 cfs), Muskegon River at Croton 5,150 cfs (3,020 cfs), Kalamazoo River at Comstock 1,780 cfs (1,070 cfs) and the St. Joseph River at Niles 8,580 cfs (4,190 cfs average). 

There is still a little ice left in Lake Superior – mainly in Black Bay and Nipigon Bay. 

Great Lakes News:  (coming later)

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