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Lake Superior water level at 30-year high

Jun 29, 2019 03:16PM ● By Editor

A couple walks along the Lake Superior shoreline at Park Point in Duluth. Photo:  Dan Kraker | MPR News

By Carl Clutchey of the Chronicle Journal - June 29, 2019

When you’ve operated a marina a stone’s throw from Lake Superior for nearly 50 years, you tend not to get too excited by the big lake’s ups and downs.

Wawa’s Brad Buck said all the chatter about how high the lake is at the moment makes him chuckle.

“I remember once when it was really low, and people said it would take years and years to come back up — and then it did,” Buck said Friday from his marina on the Michipicoten River.

He added: “The best part about where it is right now is that it’s good for navigation.”

Though marine veterans like Buck take the lake’s fluctuations in stride, federal officials say Superior hasn’t been as high as its current level in 30 years.

“Depending on what the weather does (this summer) we will probably see the highest July on record,” said Centre For Inland Waters engineer Frank Seglenieks.

The lake was at 183.86 metres (603 feet) above sea level this week — more than 40 centimetres (15.7 inches) higher than the normal June average of 183.45. The average so far this month has been higher than average at 183.84.

The highest level on record was 183.91 metres in October 1985. Superior normally rises through the summer and peaks in the fall.

Seglenieks, who is based near Toronto, said there’s no cause for alarm, “but we just want everyone to be aware of what’s happening.”

Ample spring rain and a long winter which resulted in unusually thick ice in some Superior bays accounts for the high water level, said Seglenieks.

The other four Great Lakes are also higher than normal, so “there is a lot of water in the system right now. There’s no excess storage space.”

Some shoreline properties could experience erosion, and more water usually produces larger waves during Lake Superior storms.

Buck said he’s not worried: “We’ve got a floating dock.”

Meanwhile, Thunder Bay residents can look forward to above-normal temperatures through the weekend, although it might rain a bit on Monday, according to Environment Canada.

After the cool spring, “you’re starting to catch up,” said meteorologist Gerald Cheng.

The mercury should climb to 30 C (86 F) or slightly higher in the city today. The normal high for this time of year is 23 C.

Cheng said next week should be “near normal or slightly above.”

So far this month, Thunder Bay has received 68 (2.6 inches) millimetres of rain. The normal amount for the whole month is 82 mm (3.2 inches).

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