Great Lakes Water Level Update

Bill’s Blog

Posted: May 1, 2020 / 10:21 AM EDT Updated: May 1, 2020 / 01:10 PM EDT

Strong winds pushed water on shore on 4/30 at Spring Lake MI

The top pic. is from Peg Secory – taken 4/30 (Thu.) at Spring Lake Michigan. Strong onshore winds pushed water toward the Michigan shore – causing some local flooding. I think this might be a parking lot. The water level of the Great Lakes remains at record or near record high levels for early May.

Graphs of the Water Levels of the Great lakes

The water level of Lake Superior is up 2″ in the last month, but down 2″ in the last year. It’s 11″ higher than the average early May level, but 4″ below the highest May level set in 1986.

The level of Lake Michigan/Huron is also up 2″ in the last month. However it’s up 10″ in the last year and is now 33″ above the average May level. The lake is 2″ higher than the previous May record level also set in 1986. .

The water level of Lake Erie is unchanged in the last month, up 3″ year-to-year and is now 30″ higher than the early May average level. It’s now 4″ higher than the previous record May level set in 1986.

Lake Ontario is up 4″ in the last month, but down 3″ in the last year. It’s just 13″ higher than the May average level and it’s 18″ below the May record level set in 1935.

Lake St. Clair is unchanged in the last month, up 2″ year-to-year. It’s 31″ higher than the May average level and is 4″ higher than the previous record May level set in 1986.

It’s likely that Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie and St. Clair will set record average high water levels for the month of May this year.

International Border Crossing over the St. Marys River at Sault Ste. Marie (Canada/Michigan

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have well above average flow and that will continue through the summer. Note the lack of vehicles here at the border crossing this Friday AM.

The St. Clair River at Port Huron has a flow of 273,000 cubic feet per minute – average is 176.000 cfs, so that’s 155% of average flow. The Detroit River at Detroit has a flow of 287,000 cfs – average is 187, 000 cfs.

Heavy rainfall occurred over much of the Western Lakes midweek with Spring Lake receiving 4.8″ of rain. Most rivers are now back to well above average flow.

The Grand River at Grand Rapids has a flow of 9,420 cfs – average is 4,890 cfs, so that’s 193% of average flow. The Muskegon River at Croton has a flow of 5,890 cfs – average is 2,690 cfs. The Kalamazoo River at Comstock has a flow of 1,700 cfs – average is 1,130 cfs, the St. Joseph River at Niles has a flow of 6,620 cfs – average is 4,890 cfs. The Saginaw River at Saginaw has a flow of 12,500 cfs – average is 6,000 cfs – so that’s more than double average flow. The Fox River at Green Bay, Wisconsin has a flow of 10,400 cfs – average is 6,180 cfs. So, there’s a lot of water emptying into Lake Michigan/Huron.

Great Lakes Ice Extent

The only ice left on the Great Lakes is in the bays at the northwest end of Lake Superior (Thunder, Black and Nipigon.

Record of Maximum Great Lakes Ice Extent 1973-2019

This year peak ice on the Great Lakes was 19.52% on Feb. 21, 2020. That’s 5th lowest in the last 23 years.

Great Lakes News: Bridge reopens after repairs. Lake Michigan flooding Thurs. PM. High Waters in the Great Lakes Reveal Two Centuries-Old Shipwrecks. From Fishing to Freighters: Great Lakes industries take COVID-19 economic hit. There’s a new kind of carp in the river and it’s huge. Wind Farm Divides Environmental Activists. Sewer designs. Connecting students with the Great Lakes. Microplastics in the Great Lakes. Great Lakes freighter crews lose ‘sacred right’ to shore leave, for now. Erosion Threatens A Unique Ecosystem. Charter Boats hit by COVID-19. Sheen on Lake Michigan likely gasoline spill. Number of eagles increasing. Toxic algae. 140,000 salmon poured into river.

AND: Snow piling up in SE Australia.