Great Lakes News and Water Levels

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Alpena Michigan – Sunday Dec. 13.

The top pic. is the Thunder Bay River passing through Alpena, Michigan on Sunday PM, Dec. 13th. You can see a little ice starting to form on the surface in the foreground. There are also 3 ducks on the right side by the shore.

Alpena got 13.7″ of snow on Saturday, the 10th biggest midnight-to-midnight snowfall since records began in 1916. Alpena has had 33.75″ of precipitation this year and that’s 6.54″ above average. The above-average precipitation over the past several years is the primary reason the Great Lakes water levels remain significantly higher than average (except for Lake Ontario.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Superior

The water level of Lake Superior has dropped 4″ in the last month. That represents a loss of 2.2 TRILLION gallons of water (that’s a lot for one month). Marquette has had only 0.19″ of precipitation this month (average would be 1.19″). S.Ste. Marie has picked up just 0.16″ of precipitation (average would be 1.28″ for the first 13 days of December). The water level of Lake Superior is also down 4″ year-to-year. It’s still 9″ above the average December level, but is now 7″ below the highest December level reached in 1985.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Michigan/Huron

The water level of Lakes Michigan and Huron is down 2″ in the last month. The lakes are 4″ low than in Dec. 2019. They are still 31″ higher than the average December level, but are also 4″ below the highest December level which was reached in 1986. The lake is 61″ (more than 5 feet) lower than the lowest recent December water level which occurred in 2012.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Erie

The water level of Lake Erie dropped 2″ in the last month. The lake is down 1″ since Dec. 2019 The lake level is still 24″ higher than the average December water level, but it’s now 10″ lower than the highest December level, which was also reached in 1986.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Ontario

The water level of Lake Ontario is unchanged in the last month, but the lake level has dropped 15″ in the last year (that’s a lot). The lake is only 3″ above the December average level and it’s now 23″ below the highest December water level reached in 1945.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake St. Clair

The water level of Lake St. Clair is down 2″ in the last month and down 2″ in the last year. The lake is 31″ higher than the average December level, but 4″ lower than the highest December water level set in 1986.

Webcam view of the International Bridge at S. Ste. Marie – early Mon. AM (12/14)

With the pandemic – there has been very little traffic at the International Border Crossing at S. Ste. Marie. Note the lack of snow here – unusual for mid-December. The Saturday snowstorm went pretty much southeast of S. Ste. Marie.

River levels have come up due to the Saturday rainfall. Tuesday AM (12/15), the Grand River at Grand Rapids had a flow of 5,070 cubic feet per second, almost double the average flow of 2,670 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton had a flow of 2,090 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,850 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock had a flow of 1,190 cfs, compared to an average flow of 1,850 cfs. The St. Joseph River at Niles had a flow of 3,170 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,829 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw had a flow of 6,170 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,680 cfs. The Fox River at Appleton WI had a flow of 6,070 cfs, compared to an average flow of 3,610 cfs.

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes continue to have above average flow. The St. Clair River at Port Huron had a flow of 250,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 187,000 cfs.

Great Lakes News: Emergency construction has started on dam that failed in Michigan. Outflow from Lake Ontario to be increased. Beach hazard warning lights proposed for Muskegon. Oldest Coast Guard cutter needs replacing. New +200 acre Lake Michigan park could open in Muskegon next year. E-learning classes to area schools on water safety. Hundreds of thousands of lakes don’t have names. Updated mapping of the Great Lakes. Invasive spiny water flea.

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