Great Lakes water levels expected to rebound this spring

GreatLakesLake Superior’s water level is expected to rebound to near or above its historic average this spring, the first time it has done so in 16 years.

The last time Lake Superior hit it’s long-term average was April, 1998.

“Our latest forecast, which extends from March through August, shows Lake Superior being about 1 inch above it’s long term average for the month of March,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of the watershed hydrology branch of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Detroit.

He predicts Lake Superior will remain very near its long-term average through this August.

Lakes Michigan and Huron are also expected to be 8 to 14 inches higher than they were last year. But that’s still 9 to 13 inches below their long-term averages.

According to Kompoltowicz, the persistent low water levels on Lakes Michigan and Huron could cause problems for both commercial and recreational boaters

“The commercial vessels that operate on the lakes may have to be mindful of the amount of cargo they’re loading, as access to certain harbors could be limited because of low water,” he said.

Kompoltowicz said recreational boaters could also have trouble in shallow marinas – and not all slips and docks will be able to be used this year.

He credits this year’s unusually cold, snowy winter for helping the lakes rebound.

“Certainly the snowfall that we’ve experienced across the Great Lakes is contributing to the higher water levels forecasted for this spring and summer,” Kompoltowicz said. “The water that’s contained in that snowpack makes up a large part of the supply of water that causes the Great Lakes to rise in the spring.”

Significant ice cover on the Great Lakes is also helping water levels rebound.

It prevents the lakes from evaporating and forming lake effect snow during the winter months – and will keep water levels cooler all the way through next fall – preventing further evaporation.