Water levels improving
Jul 21, 2015 at 2:49 PM
After setting record low numbers more than a year ago, experts say lake levels have rebounded.
“We’re doing pretty good,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Area Engineer Tom O’Bryan said. “We’re up a foot and a half from our low in January.”
Average lake levels for June show Lake Michigan at 578.67 feet, a tick below the lake’s long-term average of 578.77 feet.
According to the Corps of Engineers’ July report, the Great Lakes region experienced above-average precipitation in June. The Lake Michigan area saw precipitation that was more than 25 percent above normal.
Compared to this time last year, Lake Michigan is about 14 inches higher. The lake is expected to rise another inch over the next month.
“To peak that high is a pretty good peak,” O’Bryan said. “It’s very possible we could come above our long-term average.”
Drew Gronewold, a hydrologist for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, also noted improved conditions.
“The current official projections show that, by next winter, water levels will converge (with monthly averages),” he said. “The last time average monthly water levels exceeded the average for a particular month was in 1998.”
For more than a decade, levels have been well below what’s normal.
“The thing we’re trying to tell the public is water levels on (the Great Lakes) have been persistently low for 15 years,” Gronewald said. “We’re very curious if this cold winter will reset the system and enter a whole new regime where water levels are near their average.”
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