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Boreal Community Media

Lake Superior water levels dip 4 inches in February

Feb 29, 2020 09:32AM ● By Editor

Photo from the U.S. Coast Guard Ship Katmai Bay near the Soo Locks Feb. 2020

From WOOD-TV - February 28, 2020

Great Lakes water levels remain at or near late February record levels and that trend is expected to continue.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Superior

The water level of Lake Superior is down 4″ in the last month. That’s a significant drop and mostly due to the fact that temperatures are below freezing and precipitation falls as snow and stays on the ground rather than water moving into the rivers. There is now a deep snowpack around Lake Superior (snow depths Friday: 51″ Painesdale, 49″ Grand Marais, 37″ Munising, 36″ Marquette, 35″ Hancock) and that snow will eventually melt and get into the lake. 

Lake Superior is at the same level as one year ago, but still 13″ above the average level for late February. It’s 2″ below the highest February level set in 1986.

Graph of the Water Level of Lake Michigan-Huron

The water level of Lake Michigan-Huron is down 2″ in the last month, but still 15″ higher than one year ago. The lake is 37″ higher than the late February average and is 4″ higher than the record February level set in 1986.

All the rivers that connect the Great Lakes have well above average flow. The Detroit River at Detroit has a flow of 261,000 cubic feet per second, compared to an average flow of 176 cfs. That’s 148% of average flow and that’s a lot of water passing by.

Great Lakes ice extent

Here’s Great Lakes ice extent…well below average for the end of February. Strong winds over the past couple days have broken up a little of the ice. While there is a little floating ice nearshore, in Lower Michigan, most all of the ice in Lake Michigan is in Green Bay and from Beaver Island to the Mackinac Bridge.

To read the original article and see much more weather related reporting, follow this link to the WOOD-TV website.

Boreal Ship Spotter - larger view here