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Predicting the impact of high Lake Superior water levels.

Apr 04, 2018 08:00AM ● By Editor

The National Park’s Au Sable Dunes is an area being impacted from erosion due to near record high Lake Superior water levels. In 2017 a popular overlook and trail was temporarily shut down due to severe erosion. Photo: Todd Marsee, Michigan Sea Grant

Lake Superior water levels are high—really high. Current levels are within just a few inches of the all-time monthly high for March, which was set back in 1986. And predictions for May, June and July set a significant probability levels could reach or even exceed the all-time monthly high for those months. The Great Lakes in general had a significant period of lake water levels being well below average in the mid-1990s until about 5 years ago. Now water levels are higher than many people have seen in their lifetime.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) has been tracking lake levels with scientifically valid data for more than 100 years. The USACE predicts lake level changes with a “6-month probability” forecast, which is updated every month.

What will be the impact of higher water levels?

In partnership with Michigan Sea Grant and Michigan State University Extension, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District Office will discuss the changing Lake Superior water levels. The presentations are free and open to all. Coastal home and property owners, city and township government officials, boaters and marina owners, management agencies, regional planners, and anyone who enjoys recreating along the coast of Lake Superior will find the topics particularly relevant. Dr. Lauren Fry, who leads the water level forecasting mission at the Detroit District Office of Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology, will discuss what to expect in terms of lake levels over the next few months and the science that goes into determining Great Lake Water levels.

Michigan Sea Grant will provide materials and handouts to help understand what the impact might be on Lake Superior coastlines and how to prepare for the fact that lake levels change over time. A question and answer time will follow the presentations allowing the public to gain valuable insight on how changing water levels may affect them.

Meetings planned in Marquette, Sault Ste. Marie 

  • 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. April 16 at the Marquette Charter Township Community Room, 1000 Commerce Drive, Marquette, MI 49855. Free parking on site.
  • 6 p.m.-7:30 p.m. April 17 at Lake Superior State University, Crawford Hall Room 205, 906 Ryan Ave., Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783. Free parking in LSSU Library Lot, lot J.

To learn more about the US Army Corps of Engineers lake level forecasting here, and gain additional insight from MSUExtension on the current situation with Lake Superior Water levels here.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University and its MSU Extension, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit To have a digest of information delivered straight to your email inbox, visit To contact an expert in your area, visit, or call 888-MSUE4MI (888-678-3464).

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