“We are doing much better, obviously, based on where we were in December, January and February,” U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Area Engineer Tom O’Bryan said. “We’ve risen almost 2 feet since our lows in January.”
The Lakes Michigan-Huron basin set historic all-time record lows late last year. In December, it was at 576.15 feet.
Water levels have since rebounded. This month, Lake Michigan has been hovering at about 577.7 feet.
“It has been a great improvement since early spring even,” O’Bryan said. “Our seasonal fluctuation has risen much more than normal. We’re at our seasonal high right now.”
These increased water levels have helped both the commercial shipping and recreational boating industries, O’Bryan said.
Although the lake levels have improved since the winter, experts say that there is still a long way to go before we see “normal” levels of years past.
“We are still almost 18 inches behind our long-term average,” O’Bryan said. “And we’re probably 4 feet behind our all-time high.”
According to Corps of Engineers data, Lake Michigan's long-term average for the month of July is 579.3 feet. The all-time high for the month is 582 feet, recorded in 1986.
The factors leading to the rebound in water levels are mainly weather conditions — a rainy, cool spring and early summer; and a heavy, late-winter snowpack. Late-winter snows helped to replenish the Great Lakes, as have rainstorms over the region.
To read more of this story, see Saturday’s print or e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.