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Author Topic:   Water Levels in the Upper Great Lakes
jimh posted 09-03-2012 01:37 PM ET (US)   Profile for jimh   Send Email to jimh  
Water levels in Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron--the Upper Great Lakes--have been the subject of much concern in the past several decades. In the early 1960's the lake levels were very low, near historically low water levels. The water levels then steadily rose until by the late 1980's they were at extremely high levels, about five feet higher than chart datum. In the 2010's the water levels have again returned to lower levels, near or at chart datum.

Studies have indicated that one influence on the water level of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron is the rate of flow of water from Lake Huron into the St. Clair River at Port Huron-Sarnia. In the 1960's the government of the United States of America performed dredging there to deepen and widen the shipping channel, and this action has been identified as having caused a long-term lowering of the lake level in Lake Huron (and consequently Lake Michigan). For a good summary about this see

There has been public support for restoration of Lake Huron–Lake Michigan water levels by building of structures in the St. Clair River to reduce the rate of outflow from Lake Huron. A recent study considered this issue and other issues related to the water level in the Upper Great Lakes. The report makes for interesting reading. See: IJCGreatLakesWaterLevelIUGLS_Summary_Report.pdf

Here is an excerpt:

At the direction of the IJC [International Joint Commision], the Study Board considered the feasibility and implications of raising water levels of Lake Michigan-Huron by means of restoration structures in the St. Clair River to compensate for past natural and human- induced changes. The IJC did not request that the Study Board make any recommendation as to implementing a particular restoration option. Based on this analysis, the Study Board concluded that:

--Several of the restoration options reviewed are technically feasible. Construction cost estimates ranged from about $30 million to about $170 million, depending on the technology and level of restoration provided.

--Restoration would reduce the occurrences of extreme low water levels on Lake Michigan-Huron, but also increase the number of occurrences of extreme high lake levels.

--Commercial navigation and recreational boating and tourism interests would benefit, while coastal zone interests, hydroelectric generation and indigenous peoples would be adversely affected.

--Positive environmental effects would be concentrated in the wetlands of the Georgian Bay region, which have suffered significantly during low water levels in the past and would benefit from higher Lake Michigan-Huron levels. In contrast, restoration structures in the St. Clair River would adversely affect important spawning habitat of the lake sturgeon, an endangered species, and would have adverse effects on the Lake St. Clair fishery.

--Restoration of Lake Michigan-Huron levels would temporarily help to counteract the effects of GIA [glacial isostatic adjustment] on lowering water levels in Georgian Bay. However, restoration would compound the effects of GIA in much of the densely populated southern portion of the upper Great Lakes, resulting in more high water impacts.

--Climate change could magnify the impacts of restoring Lake Michigan-Huron water levels. If water levels become generally lower in the future as a result of climate change, then the commercial navigation sector and Georgian Bay wetlands would be adversely affected, and restoration could help mitigate these adverse effects. Conversely, if water levels become higher at times in the future, flood damages would increase, and restoration would exacerbate these adverse effects.

--Restoration structures would require the ongoing commitment and financing of the governments of Canada and the United States, a process that could take 20 years or more for the full range of planning, environmental reviews, regulatory approvals and design steps.

After I read this report, I came to the conclusion it went to a lot effort to say almost nothing about the restoration of lake levels.

The present low water levels have, of course, uncovered a lot of lake bottom at the shoreline that was previously under water for two decades of high lake levels. This has created a dispute between shoreline property owners and the local, state, and federal government about ownership of these riparian lands. Some government agencies tried to assert that the government owned the recently exposed lake bottom and took steps to block lakefront property owners from them. A grass roots organization, SAVE OUR SHORELINE, sprang into existence to oppose the grab of this land by the governments. See

The invasive shoreline plant phragmites has also become an issue. Shoreline property owners have been trying to remove this invasive plant, but some government agencies have tried to stop such removal. More legal battles ensue. I believe that phragmites was introduced in some area of the Great Lakes shoreline by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) as method to control shoreline erosion during the high-water years of the late 1980's. See phragmites_glc_factsheet_2011.pdf

for more on this plant.

ConB posted 09-03-2012 05:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
The water levels have dropped so fast the last two weeks that I was worried about getting my Outrage 18 off the shore station. I just was able to rock it off with a light fuel tank and no other crew members. We are trailer sailors for the rest of the season.

My tax dollars are at work. The township is spraying the phragmites again this year.


floater88 posted 09-04-2012 06:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for floater88  Send Email to floater88     
Just got back from the French River system that drains Nippissing into Georgian bay. The water level is down 4 feet from usual. Lots of new rocks to hit and most of the shoreline pike spots have dried up. Crappy fishing but real nice scenery. Hope the levels go up.
jimh posted 09-05-2012 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
ASIDE: In the last 25 years I think I have spent at least one week in the North Channel--in some years as many as three weeks in the North Channel. I have probably spend 40 weeks up there and I still have not explored the French River. It is on my to-do list, but with the low water I better go in an inflatable with a small outboard and a spare propeller.
tjxtreme posted 09-05-2012 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for tjxtreme    
I would be very surprised if the aggressive strain of Phragmites was indeed introduced by the Corps. I dealt with it in a previous job, so I am quite familiar with it. It spreads very easily. Homeowner attempts to remove it often make it spread more vigorously, as a detached rhizome segment can easily propagate elsewhere. The non-native strain is more aggressive than the native strain, and thus why it is deemed 'invasive.' Perhaps these agencies (it is unclear which agencies) are actually concerned with slowing the spread of Phragmites.

It is also a wetland plant (shoreline could mean wetland or non wetland). The destruction of wetlands is protected under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act.

jimh posted 09-06-2012 12:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I spent some time tonight looking for confirmation of the story I have heard about Phragmites being intentionally planted to control shoreline erosion, but I could not find any sort of reference. I swear I read it not that long ago on a website somehere. Perhaps it is just St. Clair River dock talk. I will pursue this further, but, for now, I have to retract that comment. The USACE appears to not have played a role in introducing Phragmites around here.

Most literature says the invasive strain of Phragmites has been in the USA for a long time, spreading from the East Coast. It seems to have really taken hold in the St. Clair River and wetlands in the past 20 years, causing it to become a significant problem and the object of a lot of attention. Shoreline land owners are cutting it, burning it, treating it with herbicides, and doing all they can to stop it.

floater88 posted 09-06-2012 07:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for floater88  Send Email to floater88     
The French is worth the trip. There are more rocks to worry about now but it is a typical Shield Lake/River system. We were warned by the lodge owner about all these places we 'shouldn't' go but we went every where and had no problems at all. Keep your eyes open and don't pass between Islands and the shoreline where most of the unknown rocks seemed to be. Any rocks in the main channels have been marked by the locals. Great camp sites all along the Provincial park.
jimh posted 09-06-2012 08:55 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
With regard to the level of Lake Huron-Michigan, reasonable scientific study has identified three causes for the trend in the past few decades for lower water levels and estimated the amount of lower water each has caused::

--the change in the conveyance of water through the St. Clair river accounts for about 3 to 5-inches of lowering;

--glacial isostatic adjustment (or the shifting of the earth's crust following the ice age) accounts for about 2-inches of lowering;

--change in climatic patterns accounts for 4 to 6-inches of lowering.

The change in the rate of flow in the St. Clair is due to dredging of the navigation channel to enable commercial shipping. There is little doubt about the effect of the dredging. This was caused by man.

The glacial isostatic adjustment is a process that has been going on for thousands of years, and man has had no influence.

The change in climatic pattern is a global process. Whether or not man has influenced the change is debatable. Whether or not local recreational power boaters have influenced the change is not in question; they have not.

jimh posted 09-17-2012 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The water level in Lake Michigan-Huron has now been below the long term average level for 13 years. This is the longest period of low water level recorded by the Army Corps of Engineers.

This past weekend I was cruising in the St Clair River and noticed that the shoreline areas along Harsens Islands were showing large sections of beach sands. Those beach sands are normally lake bottom land in years with average water levels.

martyn1075 posted 09-17-2012 12:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Im not a local and can't speak with complete knowledge of the area like some of you however one note I picked up on was in the original post, "In the early 1960's the lake levels were very low, near historically low water levels."

Basically its happened before and probably has for many thousands of years as well. I am certainly not saying its a good thing either but the earth has and will continue to cycle through many changes warm and cold over several thousands of years. Its gong thorough one right now but I am quite confident this is a very mild change although disturbing and a inconvenience for boaters in that area it will correct itself again.

Where I live we are lucky to see a few months of decent weather. Our Junes in the 60's and 70's were always fantastic in fact you might pull out a bit of dry weather in April and May. It wasn't until early September that the season changed to cold rain and it was quite a quick drastic change. Recently in the last decade or so our Junes have been very wet maybe two days of sun this year if, but hang on our Septembers have been brilliant I think this is our third week straight of sun and long term is holding on for another 12 days! Our you kidding me? Leaves are falling plants know and they are not waiting but the the sun will shine for a little longer. It just seems like it has shifted for us over several years but I am not convinced that it will be long term forever to me its a cycle and we have no choice but to be responsible and ride out whatever comes our way.


ConB posted 09-17-2012 12:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
Here is a link to graphs for the last 100 years or so.

I find it interesting that Lake Michigan has been at lows recently longer than the dust bowl years in the 30s.


Hoosier posted 09-17-2012 01:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
It's interesting that there has been a very sudden drop in the St. Mary's River. At the beginning of August, when we left from Detour for the North Channel, the sandbar west of the ramp was barely awash. A month later, Labor Day, the bar was completely exposed, a drop of about 4" in a month. That's huge.
L H G posted 09-17-2012 02:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
At a launching ramp I use frequently, there is a unique feature of the construction that makes it easy to determine, and accurately measure, water level. Yesterday, I noticed that the level of Lake Michigan was down 1 foot from where it was in May! It seems to have dropped 4" in the last couple of weeks. I have never seen a drop this significant over the course of the summer boating season. The Lake has now got to be below Chart Datum and pushing an all time recorded low.

We need a lot of snow this winter!

martyn1075 posted 09-17-2012 02:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Also not to highjack the thread but in our case I might add the sudden drop is not a good thing plants don't wait sure but our wild fish (salmon) for many years depend on September rains so the river will quickly rise and therefore allow the salmon to get up the river and spawn obviously a good thing if you like to eat and catch salmon and also I might add a significant environmental factor to the earth in our area at least. Another two weeks of this weather will cause a disaster for these local salmon runs due to exhaustion they could just die at the entry of the river or likely the natives will slay them while they stock pile in schools. Man has intervened and used hatchery eggs from other rivers to balance out these precious runs in cases such as these. It doesn't happen every year either but since the weather has shifted just a bit this happens more and more often.


PeteB88 posted 09-17-2012 03:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Upper Great Lakes - man, water levels way down Grand Haven - Muskegon area - Spring Lake resident I know with channel behind his house for pontoons and runabouts showed it to me and it was totally dry as bone two weeks ago, pontoons floating on mud. The neighbors draw sprinker system water and those pipes are sucking air.

I won't launch the Outrage at my favorite ramps in Spring Lake or Muskegon Lake unless major reason to do so.

No Doubt, It's a Drought.

prj posted 09-23-2012 04:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Here is a bit of informative journalism from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Egan: pressure-mounts-to-restore-great-lakes-water-levels-f76ug5a-170854881. html

What I find interesting in this piece is the backstory of the process. The article touches on authorship of studies, motivations, agendas and politics.

Buckda posted 09-23-2012 04:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
The solution is somewhat simple, although expensive.

Install a lock & submerged dam or spillway, or series of locks and spillways on the Detroit and St. Clair rivers to limit the flow of water.

Hoosier posted 09-23-2012 08:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Dave, there are locks and dams already on the St. Mary's River at Sault St. Marie, the only source for throw out of Lake Superior. This problem is bigger than turning off the faucet, there has to be more inflow to Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan, and Lake Huron; that's kinda hard for us wee humans, to do...
jimh posted 09-23-2012 10:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Thanks for the link to Dan Egan's article.
jimh posted 09-25-2012 08:18 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I'd like to go on a bit about the Dan Egan article. It is journalism with a capital J. These days you can find a lot of information being presented, particularly on-line from some websites, where the content consists of nothing more than word-for-word cut-and-paste from press releases or wire service stories, often without any attribution. That is not journalism. Investigating the story, analyzing the story, telling the story, and not just reprinting press releases is what we used to get from new sources. It is nice to see this tradition of journalism still lives on in some organizations.

As I commented when I read the report from the study board, it seemed to go to great lengths to say nothing much in particular about the restoration of lake levels.

I understand the concept of having a uniform depth for the shipping channel in a waterway system like the Great Lakes. Perhaps in the zeal to accomplish this the Army Corps of Engineers went too far or rather too deep with the dredging in some areas. It would be better in my opinion to have an extra foot of water everywhere in the entire Lake Michigan-Huron system than to have an extra foot of depth in a particular part of the shipping channel in that system.

prj posted 09-25-2012 11:25 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Amen regarding Egan's work, my use of the word journalism was not by accident. He has a deep body of work on the Great Lakes that can be accessed in the article above.

I'm not certain that he works on anything else, and these articles come out only sporadically, suggesting a commitment of time and energy not often seen these days on mobile news apps.

Hoosier posted 09-27-2012 08:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
This was in today's Weekly Fishing Report issued by the Michigan DNR

St. Mary’s River: A warning to boat anglers along the entire watershed including Detour and the area around Drummond Island: water levels are lower now than they have been all summer. Boat anglers need to be extremely careful.

jimh posted 09-30-2012 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
On a technical note, I should have included Lake Erie in my description of "the Upper Great Lakes." I believe that the point of demarcation between upper and lower lakes is Niagara Falls. You can see the relative lake levels more clearly in this chart published by the United States Army Corps of Engineers:

Click for larger graphic

The notion of a division of the Great Lakes is perhaps historical, and comes from the difficulty in navigating beyond Niagara Falls. The significant change in level between Lake Erie and Lake Ontario was a natural barrier for travel by ship until the creation of the Welland Canal.

Lake Erie, being the lowest of the Upper Great Lakes, gets all the water the upper lakes have to send. It seems reasonable that the level in Lake Erie might rise slightly if more water comes from Lake Huron into Lake Erie, or at least remain somewhat stable. Lake Erie is also the most shallow of the Great Lakes. How this effects its tendency for water level variation is beyond my knowledge. I do believe that the level of Lake Erie tends to vary due to many factors, including wind driven effects.

It is now apparently common for large commercial ships coming down the Detroit River to ask for the current reading of a water level gauge near the entrance to Lake Erie in order to get an up-to-the-minute report on water level in Western Lake Erie. I base this on my monitoring of commercial ship traffic on the VHF Marine Band radio channel used for vessel traffic control. Many ships make inquiry with VTS to get the current water level reading on water gauges in the lower Detroit River before proceeding downbound into Lake Erie.

Some of our own Boston Whaler brethren experienced the rapid change in Lake Erie water level first hand a few years ago. A strong West wind blew water out of the West end of Lake Erie and turned the marina channel into a mud flat, creating difficulty for them to leave the marina.

These rapidly varying water levels may put Lake Erie outside of the concern for falling lake levels in the report. However, I recall prior reports that have shown the difference in level between the head of the Detroit River and its mouth at Lake Erie have decreased over the years. In inference was that the rate of water flow through the Detroit River may have also been increased due to dredging, particularly in the lower river in the area of the Livingstone Channel.

L H G posted 10-10-2012 01:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
From what I can tell and crudely measure, by this last weekend, the level of Lake Michigan has dropped at least 18" since May of this year, and 6" in the last month. That must be some kind of a record summertime drop. Someone told me that he had heard the locks have been opened at Sault St Marie to bring more Lake Superior flow into Michigan/Huron. Any truth to that rumor?

It is shocking to see what's left of the relatively shallow bay and harbor at Ephriam WI. It looks more like a beach! The Lake has got to be pushing an all time recorded record low, and might be lower than 1964, and generally annual lows are not reached until February. So it may still be going down.

whalerdude posted 10-10-2012 08:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for whalerdude  Send Email to whalerdude     
I am on the beach here in Lake Bluff every morning. Lately I have been shocked as to how low the lake looks and how many new rocks that have always been under water now are exposed. The beach seems huge. I know it always drops down at this time of year but this year is really unusual.
Lohff posted 10-14-2012 09:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Lohff  Send Email to Lohff     
As I've said before, the politicians are killing the Great Lakes as they pad their pockets with shipping dollars. Politicians are blind to the 6 billion dollar fishing industry on the Lakes let alone the massive boating industry. The cost to fix the problem at the St. Clair River is blown way out of porportion. They need to forget the expensive studies and FIX the problem. Invasive species brought in by the GD freighters have taken over the Great Lakes to the point of no return. Maybe we should add one more invasive species to the Great Lakes.....
Buckda posted 10-14-2012 09:56 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
With the Canadians now being the wealthier of the two nations bordering the Great Lakes, perhaps we should lobby Ottawa to begin construction of the Great Recycling and Northern Development (GRAND) Canal project to divert water from the Albany River and James Bay.

This would provide direct Whaler content by giving us a new waterway to explore through the northern portion of Ontario.

cf: Great_Recycling_and_Northern_Development_Canal

Or...we can just put a lock and dam across the St. Clair River at Port Huron and meter how much water actually flows out of the three highest lakes.

gnr posted 10-14-2012 10:53 AM ET (US)     Profile for gnr    

The sixth Great Lake, Lake Champlain, flirted with record low levels this summer. It sounds like the level of Champlain does seasonally fluctuate more than the upper Great Lakes being discussed here. There is typically a five to six foot variance between spring high water and fall low water.

16 months ago the lake was at a 100 year high water mark Today is sits at about a 30 year low water mark after having climbed a bit in the last month from a near record low water mark.

Hoosier posted 10-14-2012 11:28 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Interesting idea. Locks on the St. Clair or Detroit Rivers would not be a trial undertaking. The Soo locks have a lift of about 22 feet, the Welland Canal is the height of Niagara Falls. A dam on the St. Clair/Detroit River would be a low head dam like they have on the Mississippi River System. It could be done.
Buckda posted 10-14-2012 11:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
I agree it would not be trivial...and would require international cooperation and probably a lot more to determine when and how much water to release through the dam(s).

It wouldn't help Lake Erie much, but it would help Lakes Michigan and Huron. My understanding that while also low, Lake Superior is less prone to fluctuation than Lakes Huron and Michigan.

It may be cheaper, more feasible and/or more responsible to somehow limit the flow to previous levels (prior to dredging).

Interesting tidbit from the Wikipedia article on the GRAND Canal appears that Canada is already redirecting enough water to offset the drainage from the reversal of the Chicago River. I had not been previously aware of that (if it is true). Officials should double-check to ensure that the volume of water diverted is keeping pace to match that which drains from the reversal of the Chicago River and associated waterways in NW Indiana.

We need a wet, cold, snowy winter in the upper Midwest, that is for sure.

dfmcintyre posted 10-14-2012 12:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Dave -

Our family has owned beach front property five miles north of the bridge since 1922. I've been recently scanning beach scene photos from my Dad's old albums.

The water level has been lower.

Regards - Don

L H G posted 10-14-2012 05:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
At any given time, there is only so much water in the entire Great Lakes Watershed. Putting a dam and lock system in the St Claire River and letting Michigan Huron come up 4' or 5' would only serve to drop the level of downstream Lakes by about 10' and dry up Niagara Falls. So that is not going to happen, at least not soon.

From what I understand, the solution is to put a concrete sill (underwater dam) in the St Claire to slow down the water loss from the upper Lakes, while not starving the lower Lakes of their water. And pray for heavy winter snow.

But the sill could be a detriment to shipping, as many ships may not clear it. There is no question that, absent significant new water into the watershed, shipping in the Great Lakes may have be slowed down or radically changed with shallower draft vessels. Or there will have to be a fleet of Upper Lakes ships, and a fleet of Lower Lakes ships. The water is more valuable than the shipping traffic. Already specially designed tug mated barges are replacing the traditional ore carriers, which are no longer being built. There is a new one nearing completion at Bay Shipbuilding in Sturgeon Bay WI.

jimh posted 10-14-2012 05:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The shift to integrated tug-barge vessels to replace the traditional lake carrier vessel was not done to create less draft. It was done to create less crew. The integrated tug-barge vessels still load to the same draft limits as the traditional lakers. For example, the integrated tug-barge vessel PRESQUE ISLE is a 1,000-foot vessel with a depth of 46-feet. I am sure she can load to the Seaway max.
Buckda posted 10-14-2012 06:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
At any given time, there is only so much water in the entire Great Lakes Watershed.

This is true.

But I get the impression that you are saying that the watershed holds X trillion cubic feet and not a drop more - which is not true at all. Sometimes it is more water, sometimes it is less. When it is more water, then retaining it in the upper three lakes would not harm Lake Erie, the falls at Niagara or Lake Ontario. When it is less water, well, that's what the dam system would be for - to keep the levels more normalized and keep the system at "more water" or some standard range.

The volume of the great lakes system actually varies quite a bit - and it can be measured in lake levels as well as flow rates in the St. Clair, Detroit and Niagara rivers and the falls at Niagara. In fact, the falls at Niagara are currently running a reduced flow anyway (compared to their natural state) due to power generation diversions, and to keep the edge of the falls from eroding so quickly. That rate, much like the rate of flow/diversion at Sault Ste Marie, is governed by a treaty with Canada and the United States. In the case of the Niagara River, it is the Niagara Treaty of 1950, and administered by the International Niagara Board of Control. The locks at the Soo are governed by a similar group and treaty.

The volume of water flowing through these rivers and over the falls varies throughout the year. A dam control system would help to keep this variation more normalized...and could help stabilize the lake levels.

prj posted 10-18-2012 10:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Here is another fine article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Egan, which notes that Lake Michigan touched a record low and describes how the lake elevations are measured as averages: lake-michigan-level-touches-record-low-for-month-pq78c8s-174408611.html

It also includes a photo of the Ephraim, WI lakefront and shallow bay, Eagle Harbor. I spent a morning at the John Nelson Cottage on the north shore of Eagle Harbor in August of this year. The Owner's concrete over wood cribbing dock was all but high and dry, with the previously dredged boat channel reaching ankle depths only adjacent to the structure.

Here is a water level photo of the tug portion of an integrated tug-barge, in drydock at Bay Shipbuilding of Sturgeon Bay from late July of this year. Though not fully captured in the photo due to proximity, the helm tower is a key identifying feature of these tugs, enabling the Pilot to see over the barge thats forward of his position. lightbox/

We were able to pull right up adjacent to the drydock and check out the underside of the vessel and the massive twin screws. The kids were quite impressed by this rare water side view of the tug bottom (Jack is mine, to starboard). lightbox/

muskrat posted 10-18-2012 01:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for muskrat  Send Email to muskrat     
I do not think The dredging of the St. Clair river is the cause of lower water in lake Huron. I would expect a relatively sudden increase in water flow through the St. clair river would result in higher lake Erie waters at least for a few years until mother nature could adjust and increase water flow through the Niagra. The evidence I see and hear show the opposite. It looks to me we are just going through a natural dip in water levels throughout the great lakes region.
jimh posted 10-20-2012 08:41 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In discussing the topic of the level of Lake Michigan-Lake Huron with some colleagues who happen to have recently been on the shoreline, they all commented on the extremely low water level in recent weeks, which, as noted in the Dan Egan article mentioned above, is apparently at a new historic low level. It seems the water level is trended downward as it typically does due to the season, and even lower water level is very probable in the next month or two.
contender posted 10-20-2012 08:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for contender  Send Email to contender     
[Speculated that the water levels in other lakes would be a good topic. I recommend starting a new thread to discuss the water levels in other lakes that you think will be a good topic. I would prefer to keep the topic of this thread constrained to the water level in the upper Great Lakes. Thank you. --jimh]
jimh posted 11-28-2012 05:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I had a chance to see for myself first-hand the present water level in Lake Michigan. Wow--it is low! We were in Grand Traverse Bay and there were large stretches of exposed bottom land now appearing. We could see people's docks that were still in which now ended on dry land and did not reach the water. Lake Michigan must presently be more than 1.5-feet below its summer level from this past season. Let us hope for a cold and very snowy winter. The USACE says Lake Michigan is 14-inches BELOW chart datum--this is lower than anything I can recall.
MarthaB posted 11-28-2012 10:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for MarthaB  Send Email to MarthaB     
Are you and Chris lurking around here?
ConB posted 11-30-2012 09:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
I have lived on Suttons Bay, a bay off Lake Michigan, most of my life.

In 1964 at record low I remember lots of frog ponds where we used to swim. item_id=3885&destination=ShowItem

I have seen the water this low in the past, but not for as many years.


jimh posted 11-30-2012 01:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Pete took this photograph of the boat launch ramp at Spring Lake. The courtesy dock has not been hauled out for the season. It is in its usual position for summer launching. You can get a good idea of the low water level of Lake Michigan from this view.

Photo: Boat launch ramp with low water.

PeteB88 posted 12-01-2012 01:00 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Thanks for posting that shot Jim. There are so many places around here much worse. Channels where people keep boats have been dry for a couple of months, some boats and pontoons laying in the mud. I'll take some more next few days. This is worrisome.
jimh posted 12-01-2012 10:32 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Dave Hart sent me this image of the launching ramp at Detour Village, where many of us launched this summer:

Photo: Launch ramp channel at Detour Village, Michigan, in December 2012 with very low water level.

The boulder in the foreground was well underwater this summer, and that sand bar in the background was not visible.

Buckda posted 12-02-2012 08:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for Buckda  Send Email to Buckda     
Judging from the chart linked above, we're simply at a low in what appears to be a 20 year cycle of high and low water.

The floating dock companies can use this data to make a persuasive argument for their products. The Global Warming people will use this decade to tell us the Lakes are drying up, and then in another couple decades, will tell us the flood apocalypse is upon us.

I blame my smokey, oily 2-stroke outboard. I'm going to go outside now and kick it. The resulting medical bill will be added to the long list of transgressions of this motor.

It will be judged and sentenced accordingly.

Moose posted 12-03-2012 04:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moose  Send Email to Moose     
I've seen some alarming things along the lake this fall. Yesterday I took this shot of White Lake, near Whitehall, Michigan. During July of 2011 I put an anchor on the bottom and waded to shore from the area where the largest enclosed puddle in the center of the picture is located. If I would have had my wallet in my back pocket it would've gotten wet.

Saw this yesterday in Ludington. You know this guy is from West Michigan. A great day for fishing on the lake can easily be followed with a need for an 8 foot snow plow to get home.

Hoosier posted 12-03-2012 06:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
He probably was planning on plowing out the channel so he could go fishing...
Teak Oil posted 12-03-2012 09:57 PM ET (US)     Profile for Teak Oil  Send Email to Teak Oil     
Dave I think this is more than simply more than a low during a cycle, the Army Core of Engineers is predicting the lowest levels ever recorded this winter.

At least we have had the forsight to have a findness for boats that have shallow drafts, I know a lot of people with high boat payments that will not even be able to launch their boats at this rate.

Unfortunately we will not be getting very much snow this winter because I just purchased a 50" snowblower for my tractor which will guarantee a mild winter.

Teak Oil posted 12-03-2012 09:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Teak Oil  Send Email to Teak Oil
GreatBayNH posted 12-07-2012 03:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for GreatBayNH    
Over here we call that low tide. Just wait 6 hours and it goes away.
JMARTIN posted 12-07-2012 04:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
Who owns this expanded beach, the property owners?


jimh posted 12-07-2012 05:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Who owns this expanded beach, the property owners?


The present low water levels have, of course, uncovered a lot of lake bottom at the shoreline that was previously under water for two decades of high lake levels. This has created a dispute between shoreline property owners and the local, state, and federal government about ownership of these riparian lands. Some government agencies tried to assert that the government owned the recently exposed lake bottom and took steps to block lakefront property owners from them. A grass roots organization, SAVE OUR SHORELINE, sprang into existence to oppose the grab of this land by the governments.

From the initial article in the thread.
Lohff posted 12-07-2012 07:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Lohff  Send Email to Lohff     
Regarding the ownership of "bottomlands", this is still a gray area that is continually discussed. Being a land surveyor in the EUP of Michigan, I deal with this all the time. The State says they own below the Ordinary High Water Mark. The OHWM is at about where brush/trees quit growing. (Or at elevation 581.5 +/- for Lakes Michigan and Huron, depending on which bureaucratic agency you are dealing with. Low Water Datum being 577.5).

Some property owners argue they own to the waters edge. The property owners have use of the land to the waters edge, however, the State argues the public has use of the land from the OHWM down to the waters edge. A person can walk the shoreline of the great lakes.

If a property owner wishes to place a dock/boathouse below the OHWM or in the bottomlands, he can under permit.

JMARTIN posted 12-07-2012 07:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for JMARTIN  Send Email to JMARTIN     
Our salt water waterfront has ownership of tide lands to mean low tide. I think it is a 19 year average of lowest tides. We let people walk on it, dig clams, play beach golf and skim board.

County is missing an opportunity to say, "Wow your land value has gone way up because your water front lot has increased in square footage. Adjusted property tax invoices are in the mail.".


PeteB88 posted 12-08-2012 01:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
I've heard (from top guys who know) that public has a right to access the riparian area of navigable waters. As someone who spent much of his life fishing in waders, busting brush on trout, steelhead and salmon streams, issues of crossing private property have come up often. Sometimes w/ owner being extremely confrontational and super pissed.

When wading we always tried to stay in the water when in proximity to someone's private property but sometimes that's impossible. In Western states I never had a problem. However, in Michigan I've seem some of the most deluxe a-holes go ballistic for no freaking reason "protecting" their private property. One time I had to rescue Ellen from being swept downstream in super fast water on Michigan's Rogue R and this land barron came flying out of his house screaming at us when she was up to her armpits in fast water and I had to get her to shore - the only bank we had available was this dude's shoreline.

I tried to avoid the argument and absorb the insults and worse so finally when Ellen was safe and off his property upstream I turned to him and I said - "Okay friend, It's Sunday morning, I just had to rescue my wife from being pulled down and swept away in fast water - I"M SORRY! to have stepped on the river bank in front of your house", He kept at as we were tip toeing along the shore line and kept screaming at me so I stopped, turned around and said " Hey, I have a plan buddy - if it will get your rocks off, I'll wait right here and you go into your house, get your gun and come out here and shoot me - I'll stand here and wait for you. I'm sure you will feel much better after you shoot my ass.. go get your f'ing gun..." He shut up and we left.

Then you find dorks who build chainlink fences out into rivers like 10 feet - stupid. Never saw that in Pacific NW.

This whole thing about property masters is tiring. So far no incidents walking the shoreline along Lake Michigan.

jimh posted 12-08-2012 09:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The creation of disputes about riparian rights is just another burden that could be avoided if we had our normal water level return. Let's hope it does so we can go boating instead of arguing about riparian rights.

ASIDE: In situations where land was flooded by impoundment of water due to construction of a dam, I think the land owners whose property was flooded may retain rights to that bottomland.

ASIDE: Many years ago we were were looking for an access point to the beach of Lake Michigan in the vicinity of Cross Village. The shoreline did not seem to offer any public access. We found a church on the shoreline. We parked in their lot, walked down to the waterline, and took a long hike on the beach. We did not encounter any hostile riparian rights advocates during our visit.

PeteB88 posted 12-11-2012 11:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for PeteB88  Send Email to PeteB88     
Great Lakes Conspiracy - Water issue

You never know - shoot includes Dave Dempsey, well known Michigan guy and former state official, in the production.

Jesse Ventura goes buck wild.

Some problems as always w/ Jesse's productions - 42:41 - boat registration number is LA not MC - Louisiana.

Hey, it's winter - need a work break.

ConB posted 12-11-2012 03:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
I'm wondering why Jesse did not meet with Jim Olson when he was in Traverse City. Olson did what he could to get some public control of the Nestle/ Ice Mountain water plant deal.


prj posted 12-30-2012 03:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Egan penned another article in the low water series. Most interesting to me was the actual elevation of the lake currently (175.59 meters = 576'-1") versus the record low of 175.58 meters from March 1964. Typical lows occur in early spring, so it seems likely that this record will fall hard.

http:/ / www. jsonline. com/ news/ wisconsin/ states-coastal-communities -struggle-to-cope-with-low-lake-levels-1286if3-185181362. html

The photo gallery is descriptive as well.

K Albus posted 12-30-2012 04:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
One thing that I found surprising is how small the Great Lakes Basin is. Hardly any rain or snow from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and indiana makes it way into the Great Lakes. See
jimh posted 01-19-2013 01:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
It is official: the December 2012 water level in Lake Michigan was the lowest recorded in history of the data, although it only beat the previous record low by a few hundredths of an inch. Lake Michigan--Lake Huron is presently 18-inches below chart datum. The water level is forecast to continue to drop, as is the norm in Winter.

Mean Water Level December 2012 = 576.15-feet
Prior Historic Low Water Level = 576.20 (1964)

Source: currentconditions/greatlakeswaterlevels/

jimh posted 02-02-2013 01:38 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The local newspaper in Michigan's Leelanau area is reporting that the Village of Suttons Bay is going forward with a dredging project for their harbor and marina to remove 11,000-cubic feet of Lake Michigan bottomland to increase the water depth. This project is going to cost over $256,000. The marina at Suttons Bay says they will increase transient slip fees to recover some of this cost. Most of the slips in their marina are seasonal rentals. The transient berths are probably less than one-quarter of the facilities. I would estimate they have about 50 slips in total. This means the cost of the dredging is about $5,000 per slip. It seems like expecting the transient slip fee increase to recover the costs, with only about a quarter of the slips as transient slips, means they're planning on getting an additional $20,000 from each transient slip. That seems very optimistic. The slip fees are only going up $6, and there are only about 100-days in the boating season when you can expect much transient slip rental. That sounds like a potential to get $600 per slip per season. It will take over 30 years to recover the cost that way.

What's really happening is the little village is giving the marina a big infusion of capital to keep it operating. They may never recover this cost in higher revenue from transient slips. The low water is costing them a small fortune.

This situation will be repeated in many other small recreational harbors this Spring. It will be a busy season for dredging companies.

By the way, to allow the dredging the village had to obtain permits from two state agencies and one federal agency. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers all had to grant permits to allow this dredging.

Some of the bottom land that is to be dredged is controlled by another party, the Inland Seas Educational Association, and an agreement had to be reached with them to permit their bottomland to be removed.

The 11,000-cubic yards of spoil removed will all be trucked away and will be used to fill an old sewage treatment lagoon in the village's wastewater treatment plant and in some other land fills around town. It is probably very fortunate the village had some place to put the spoil, otherwise they probably would have had to pay more to dispose of it.

Expensive projects like this are collateral damage resulting from the unusual and extended period of low water levels in the Upper Great Lakes. I expect that this sort of dredging project will be undertaken in many small boat harbors around the region in the coming months.

ConB posted 02-02-2013 03:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
Jim, it is 17°F and snowing, so I took the time to count the slips at Suttons Bay Marina on Google maps. I came up with 170 slips knowing that they double up small boats in spots.

The shallows at the south side "old coal dock" off Dame street were dry last fall. The wild card is dredging the North Park launch ramp. The hardest to do and the least income potential. But I hope they don't do a half-heartd job because of that.--Con

jimh posted 02-02-2013 03:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Those darn slips add up faster than I thought. I guess the marina is about double the size I estimated. OK, only a 15-year pay back for the dredging. Looks like about 60 finger piers. But I don't think more than about 15 to 20 spots dedicated for transients.
ConB posted 02-03-2013 09:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
Help is coming for a few. Maybe.

http:/ / www. freep. com/ article/ 20130202/ NEWS06/ 130201101/ Governor -Rick-Snyder-dredge-Michigan-harbor?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CFRONT PAGE


jimh posted 02-03-2013 10:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
That is a very good article linked by Con. Thanks.
L H G posted 02-05-2013 06:11 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
This may be of interest:

prj posted 02-05-2013 08:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Egan reports that, once again, Lake Michigan-Huron sets a new record low for the month of January. lakes-michigan-huron-hit-record-low-level-dq8loc2-189903561.html

ConB posted 02-06-2013 11:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
A local meteorologist said that for January 2013 we are plus-1-inch of liquid moisture ahead of average in northern Michigan. The moisture came as rain instead of snow.

Glad I have my shallow-draft Outrage 18 and not a go fast sailboat.


jimh posted 04-09-2013 03:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The United States Army Corps of Engineers seems to have completely reorganized their website, resulting in almost every link to it becoming a broken link. Here is the current location of information about Great Lakes Water Levels from the USACE. aspx

K Albus posted 04-09-2013 03:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for K Albus  Send Email to K Albus     
Here's a link to the NOAA page where you can find links to water levels in the various Great Lakes:
Moose posted 04-13-2013 05:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moose  Send Email to Moose     
Saw these articles today in the Kalamazoo Gazette regarding shipwrecks (abandonded ships most likely) in the Grand River, found them quite interesting. The Mlive links are the original stories from the April 9 Muskegon Chornicle. ll_barth_shipwreck_discovered.html shipwreck_group_to_discuss_cen.html

Photos century-old_shipwreck_ll_barth_30.html

The first article touches on how the researchers intially found them from looking at Mapquest. I checked on Bing maps using their Bird's eye feature and sure enough they're there for all to see. For those that may not be fimilar with this part of the Grand River find the US 31 bridge over the river in Grand Haven, then look downstream (west) to the Harbor Island ramps on the south side of the river, the wrecks start just a few hundred feet down stream from the ramps. I believe the L. L. Barth is the wreckage further downstream just a few hundred feet prior to the smoke stack of the power plant.

That sure is some low water.

Dave Sutton posted 04-13-2013 08:33 PM ET (US)     Profile for Dave Sutton  Send Email to Dave Sutton     

Valerie is a friend of ours, I'll tell her she's made Continuouswave! She will be thrilled.



prj posted 04-26-2013 02:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Pulitzer Prize finalist Dan Egan has written another installment in his series on Great Lakes water levels for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

http:/ / www. jsonline. com/ news/ wisconsin/ international-body-urges-e ngineering-a-boost-in-huron-michigan-lake-water-levels-mu9nh5f-204862971 . html

Not surprisingly due to our wet Spring, the lake levels rose 3" during February and March and a whopping 8" during the month of April to date. USACE expects that number to rise 3 more inches by the end of the month.

The recent rains have been quite a relief to the drought conditions and record heat that WI (entire Midwest?) experienced last year, I've tolerated a rather dreary spring better keeping that thought in mind.

jimh posted 04-29-2013 11:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Near real-time water gauge reporting stations with web interfaces are showing that the water level in the lower Detroit River is about 26-inches above chart datum while the water level at various Lake Michigan western ports is 5-inches below chart datum.

This disparity is just the sort of situation suggested in the initial article of this thread, in which the outflow of Lake Huron into the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair, and Detroit River system has been made too great due to dredging.

prj posted 07-29-2013 08:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Dan Egan and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have published yet another article on water levels in the Great Lakes. This report focuses more acutely on a lack of winter ice cover creating heretofore unseen rates of evaporation. Quite directly, the article and its resources point to rising temperatures, most evident since the 70s, as a primary contributor to the changing water levels and expectations moving forward.

As poetically put by Egan:
"This is not a story about climate change.
It is a story about climate changed."

http:/ / www. jsonline. com/ news/ wisconsin/ does-lake-michigans-record -low-water-level-mark-beginning-of-new-era-for-great-lakes-216429601. ht ml

Don't miss links to two sub-stories, on altered flow and the ice road to Madeline Island, nor the photo gallery with some beautiful aerial shots.

jimh posted 07-30-2013 10:06 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I read Part One, and am awaiting Part Two to be published.

In regard to water temperature rise as mentioned in the article, in July of 2012 we were in Lake Superior. We were able to go swimming in some sheltered bays and coves of Lake Superior in water with a surface temperature of about 70-degrees. This was my first experience at swimming in Lake Superior in those temperatures. On previous visits to Lake Superior, I found the water much too cold for comfortable swimming, and, in fact, so cold that I really had no desire to become immersed in it for more than a few seconds.

Our visit in July 2012 also coincided with a very heavy rainfall from an intense storm that occurred a few weeks earlier. The color of the water in Western Lake Superior was very surprisingly muddy, due to the storm sewer run-off that was introduced to the lake from Duluth. The article mentions the increasing frequency of occurrence of very intense storms and excessive rainfall that produces storm sewer run-off into the Great Lakes.

This satellite image from NOAA shows the plume of muddy water coming from Duluth on July 5, 2012, and caused by the intense storm and heavy rain:

Hoosier posted 07-30-2013 05:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Today all the Great Lakes are above chart datum. GreatLakesWaterLevels/WaterLevelForecast/WeeklyGreatLakesWaterLevels. aspx

Hoosier posted 07-30-2013 05:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
This is where one can see that though Lake Michigan-Huron is above chart datum it's significantly below its long term average. WaterLevels/DailyLevelsEnglish.pdf

Plotman posted 07-30-2013 10:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
I think it is also interesting that people think of the water levels of the great lakes as somehow being constant,

First of all, the lakes are all mere infants in geological time - let us not forget that they are but thousands of years old. And in this brief lifetime, they have varied drastically.

I grew along the shores of Lake Michigan, and there are wave cut benches along the shore that show that the water level of Lake Michigan has at times in the not too distant past (depending on your frame of reference) been much, much higher.

Also, keep in mind how miniscule a change a foot of elevation is in terms of the amount of water in the lakes. Lake Michigan is about 14.7 million acres. It contains just under 4 billion acre feet of water. That means that a change of 3 feet represents about 1% of the volume of the lake. Lake Superior has to change 5 feet to effect a change of 1% of the lake volume.

Plotman posted 07-30-2013 10:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
One more observation - I find it very interesting that the water levels of the lower lakes are up between 13 and 15 inches over the past year, Superior (which never really varies much) is up 6 inches, while Michigan/Huron is only up 3 inches.

To me, that supports the argument that the outflow channels into St. Clair are simply too deep now and letting out too much water.

jimh posted 07-30-2013 10:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I can't cite a source at this moment, but I am sure I have read that water levels in Georgian Bay are thought to have been about one hundred feet lower than present. There are some bottom land features that are clearly man-made and are thought to be primitive animal herding devices used in hunting game. This is based on arrangements of large stones and presence of what appears to be trails.

I have often been boating in North Lake Huron in remote bays and anchorages, and the notion of how very convenient the present water level happens to be to permit access to the protected anchorage has occurred to me, how much different the lake would be if the water level were just five feet lower or five feet higher.

Plotman posted 07-31-2013 09:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
I remember some kind of documentary TV show about that, Jim. The proof was pretty conclusive, from what I remember.
prj posted 07-31-2013 12:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
David Hart linked to three Youtube documentaries recently that detailed the caribou herding structures now found at the bottom of Lake Huron.
prj posted 07-31-2013 12:30 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Egan's second installment is now available, and focuses on the St. Clair River drain that Plotman references above.

http:/ / www. jsonline. com/ news/ wisconsin/ water-flushes-through-a-gr eatly-widened-drain-below-great-lakes-michigan-huron-217472611. html

Don't miss the multitude of ancillary articles and photo galleries that accompany the main article (except for the first, a banal and low grade computer animation exercise).

prj posted 08-01-2013 05:41 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
Bruce Murphy of, one of Milwaukee's best journalists, writes a bit of a rebuttal to Egan's ongoing research here: murphys-law-global-warming-cover-up/

Herein, he takes exception to Egan's lack of focus on climate change, oddly citing the very line that I used above to make a point that Egan was focusing on same.

"But these efforts won’t get far if the media ignores what these scientists are saying. Egan had a golden opportunity to explain to readers why Lakes Michigan and Superior are getting warmer and losing ice cover — and how this is not some isolated event, but part of a global phenomenon. He all but stood on his head to avoid doing so.

As I’ve written previously, the JS has done nearly 40 stories since 2005 about the declining water level of Lakes Michigan and Huron without ever mentioning global warming."

I suppose this could be yet another example of the Main Stream Media filtering facts. Right?

jimh posted 08-01-2013 07:20 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I don't think there is anyone with a brain larger than a pea who doesn't think the climate is getting warmer. The real question is whether the climate is getting warmer because I drove an SUV in the 1980's, and, if I drive an electric car now, will it stop.
Hoosier posted 08-01-2013 07:42 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
Warming, eh? 1122-record-cold-temps-in-the-u-s-in-one-week/

Plotman posted 08-02-2013 12:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Plotman  Send Email to Plotman     
I would believe climate change if ALL of the great lakes were trending lower, but they are not. The lower lakes are basically right on their long-term averages, Superior is just a few inches below, but Michigan/Huron are still feet off of the average.

That is a very strong argument, IMHO, that there is something specific to Michigan/Huron rather than the Great Lakes as a whole.

This is not to argue at all against a recent warming trend. The most powerful thing I've seen is the data gathered over the decades about when the Madeline Island ferries shut down and re-open each season, as well as the data on how many days a year we we have an ice road.

The graphs are reference, but not shown, in this article: ice-road-on-lake-superior-melting-away-217156381.html

prj posted 11-06-2013 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for prj  Send Email to prj     
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Dan Egan wins a science writing award for his work on the Great Lakes:

http:/ / www. jsonline. com/ news/ great-lakes-series-wins-national-scie nce-writing-award-b99134321z1-230821891. html

L H G posted 11-06-2013 04:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
I checked water levels a few weeks ago at my favorite boat ramp, an it appears to be down about 8" from the early summer high point. All the recent rain may be helping things out right now.
jimh posted 11-07-2013 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The Army Corps of Engineers of the USA, (USACE) publishes data on Great Lakes water levels at WaterLevels/DailyLevelsEnglish.pdf

The chart trends show that this Fall's drop in water level has produced levels much higher than in 2012 at this same time.

The general trend is for Great Lakes water levels to be below the long-term average, with Lake Huron-Lake Michigan having the greatest departure from the long term average.

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