Lakes slowly rise

Alex Doty • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:15 PM

According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ forecast, Lake Michigan is 11 inches above its level of a year ago — and the lake is predicted to climb 3-4 inches over the next 30 days.

“We have had a very slow thaw,” said Tom O’Bryan of the corps’ Grand Haven office. “Because it is a slow melt and it’s reached the Great Lakes, it hasn’t increased (water levels) rapidly.”

Overall, the Great Lakes basin saw below-average precipitation in March. Lake Superior received 95 percent of its average precipitation, while Lake Michigan received only 69 percent.

“We still do anticipate being a foot over last year,” O’Bryan said.

Still, it isn’t where it should be to meet the average numbers.

According to Corps of Engineers data, Lake Michigan was 13 inches below its March average. As a result, boaters are asked to be cognizant of water hazards due to continued below-average levels.

Even with the slower-than-normal increases, the water levels are expected to be better than last summer.

O’Bryan noted that there is plenty of time for improvement before the summer. That’s because the lake’s water level typically doesn’t peak until July.

“A lot of our water doesn’t come from West Michigan, but from all over the Great Lakes basin,” O’Bryan explained. “Most of our water comes from (Lake Superior), and that is still really frozen up there.”

Higher water levels mean plenty of good news. And while the obvious would be boating and shipping benefits, there are other advantages.

Wetland Watch President Leslie Newman said the melting snowpack and higher water levels provide a benefit in the fight against invasive species.

To read the whole story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

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