Great Lakes Water Levels, Ice Extent and News

Bill’s Blog

Posted: Mar 31, 2020 / 04:40 AM EDT Updated: Mar 31, 2020 / 04:40 AM EDT

The map above shows soil moisture across the contiguous U.S. It’s “wet” to “very wet” across the Great Lakes and much of the Eastern U.S. There is above average soil moisture across much of the Corn Belt as we head into planting time. We’re hoping that we don’t have the problem of flooded fields like we had in some areas last spring.

Lake Superior Water Level Graph

The lines on the map above show 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.

The water level of Lake Superior is down 3″ in the last month (precipitation has been mainly snow and it’s sitting on the ground. When that snow melts, the water level of Superior will come up at least a little. The lake is down 1″ in the last year. It’s 12″ higher than average and is now 3″ below the March record level set in 1986.

Lake Michigan/Huron Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake Michigan/Huron is up 2″ in the last month and up 14″ in the last year. The lake is 37″ above the average March level and is now 5″ higher than the March record average high level set in 1986.

Graph of the water level of Lake Erie

Lake Erie is up 4″ in the last month and up 12″ in the last year. The level is 36″ above the average March level and 4″ above the record March level set in 1986.

Lake Ontario Water Level Graph

The water level of Lake Ontario is up 5″ in the last month and up 9″ in the last year. The lake is 21″ above the March average level, but it is 6″ below the record March level of 1952.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake St. Clair

The water level of Lake St. Clair is up 3″ in the last month and up 11″ in the last year. The lake is 37″ higher than the average March level and it’s 2″ above the previous record March level set in 1986.

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have well above average flow and that will continue through the summer. The flow on the St. Clair River at Port Huron is 227,000 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 189,000 cfs. The Detroit River at Detroit has a flow of 193,000 cfs, compared to an average flow of 267,000 cfs.

The weekend rain pushed up for the flow on Great Lakes rivers. The Grand River in Grand Rapids has a flow of 9,800 cfs compared to an average level of 7,020 cfs. The Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 5,020 cfs, compared to an average flow of 2,970 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 2,370 cfs, compared to 1,380 cfs. The St. Joseph River has a flow of 7,260 cfs, compared to an average flow of 5,160 cfs. The Saginaw River has a flow of 16,500 cfs, compared to an average flow of 7,760 cfs and the Fox River at Green Bay WI has a flow of 12,900 cfs, compared to an average flow of 7,560 cfs.

Great Lakes ice Extent March 30, 2020

There was relatively little ice on the Great Lakes this winter and what’s left is melting. The average ice extent on the Great Lakes is 3.3%, with only 1.5% ice cover on Lake Michigan, which is in Green Bay, Little Traverse Bay and up by the Mackinac Bridge.

Also: Lake Michigan to set March record high water level. Walleye numbers in the stratosphere. Take a virtual Great Lakes vacation. Michigan bans spreading manure in winter. Mayor closes lakefront. Diving for trash. Museums and aquariums offer online activities. This seems biblical. A) Upstream, yeah – downstream, not so much. Streaming Great Lakes videos. Shipping season underway. He caught the fish of a lifetime. Buoys will be out soon. Bald eagle capital of the world! Alternatives to road salt. Daily STEM videos. Despite pandemic, business booms along Lake Michigan shoreline. DNR waives state park entrance fees. Not all beaches on Lake Michigan are eroding. Films move online. Michigan googletrekker.

Also: Pretty Alabama sunset.

New Michigan State 24-Hour Rainfall Record is Confirmed

Michigan now has a new official 24 hour rainfall record at the aptly-named town of Fountain last July 20.