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Boreal Community Media

Great Lakes achieve record levels for July, still rising

Jul 05, 2019 04:38PM ● By Editor

Graphic:  WJRT-TV

From WJRT-TV - July 5, 2019

The onslaught of wet, dreary weather has ended across Mid-Michigan and the Great Lakes basin, but its effects are lasting.

July marks the third month in a row, the Great Lakes have water levels that have tied or broken the highest levels ever recorded. According to the Army Corps of Engineers, that level could rise drastically once more though the month of July and into August. 

The Lake Michigan-Lake Huron basin is now four inches above the June record with Lake Superior and Erie coming in at only around one to two inches higher. 

A significant round of thunderstorms in the latter part of June brought sign cant rains from Milwaukee through Michigan and over toward Toronto. Hence why the largest rise was on Lake Michigan-Huron.

The numbers that really stand out are just how far above the records for July some lakes are. Lake Erie for example is six inches higher than the previous record and Lake Ontario eight inches higher! That translates into tens of trillions of gallons of extra water flowing into the lakes. 

Since June 5th, Lake Michigan-Huron, as well as Lake St. Clair, have risen four inches each. Lake Superior is up just an inch while Lake Erie has risen two inches. Because of increased releases from dams along the St. Lawrence Seaway, Lake Ontario has actually experienced a water level decrease of one inch since early June. 

The departure from the long-term average for July continues to impress. Lake Michigan-Huron is 31 inches above that average with Lake Erie at 33 inches above. Lake Ontario is still the highest above normal by 35 inches, almost three feet! Lake Superior coming in at 14 inches above long term averages.

Why is this happening? Heavy precipitation and heavy flows into the Great Lakes have been a direct contributor over recent months. Many areas have seen precipitation above normal or even record breaking and that was after a wet and snowy winter.

June 2019 was an unneeded rainy month. Many areas were well above average with Flint seeing its 5th wettest on record. Not good.

The water levels are forecast to rise a shocking additional three inches on Lake Superior and two inches on Lake Michigan-Huron. Erie and Ontario are expected to see significant decreases due to a large increase in dam releases along the St. Lawrence Seaway.

High lake levels bring a number of issues to our state and surrounding areas. High erosion along the shoreline, property damage, and numerous rounds of flooding from highs winds blowing already high waters onshore. Many docks are now underwater and will suffer water damage from being submerged so long.

Thankfully we appear to be drying out and warming up in the month ahead. This will help dry up some water by causing a faster rate of evaporation, but it’s not enough. The water is still going to rise.  

To read the original article and see related reporting, follow this link to the WJRT website.

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