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Boreal Community Media

Lake Superior water level near record high

Nov 02, 2017 12:51PM ● By Editor

By Gary Rinne of - November 1, 2017

THUNDER BAY -- The water level on Lake Superior has approached historic records, having risen to its highest peak in over three decades.

At 183.81 metres this week, the level was just six centimetres below the highest level ever recorded at the end of October, and the third highest level at the end of October since reliable record-keeping began in 1918.

Jacob Bruxer, a Canadian government representative on the International Lake Superior Board of Control, says Lake Superior has recovered from a long stretch of below-average water levels.

"We did have an extended period that began about the late nineties, and lasted almost 15 years. Then starting around 2013 and through this year, levels have really rebounded," Bruxer told

He said the weather in the Lake Superior drainage basin generally has been wetter over the last several years. "The primary driver has been sustained wet weather, month after month, especially this year."

The highest monthly average water level recorded on Superior since 1918 was 183.91 metres in October, 1985. The monthly average this October was 183.81 metres.

Bruxer said the lake typically peaks in late summer or early fall, so "it's a little later this year, largely because we got a lot of wet weather in October," but the level should start to decline heading toward winter, and won't resume rising until spring.

He noted that the Board of Control has heard from property-owners around the lake who are concerned about damage to the shoreline.

It's one of the factors the board takes into account in its management of the outflow from Lake Superior through control structures near Sault Ste. Marie.

When weather systems bring strong wind to the region, high water levels are even more problematic.

"During significant wind events, and we've been seeing a number of these just recently...those high wind conditions and extreme weather events really exacerbate the issues," Bruxer said.

On Lake Superior's south shore, a man and a woman disappeared after they were swept into the water while wave-watching in Marquette, Michigan last week.

The same storm system sent waves crashing into the Duluth, Minnesota waterfront, causing hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to area attractions such as the Duluth Lakewalk.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here