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More record lake level highs foreseen

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Wet enough for you? Flooding and shoreline erosion that have plagued the area stand to get worse, say U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District hydrologists, who have tracked Great Lakes levels since 1918.

Lake Michigan last month set a new all-time January high, up 3.12 inches from the old record set in 1987. That translates to roughly 2.4 trillion gallons.

Of even more concern, the Corps expects that trend to continue into summer.

Lakes Michigan and Huron, which share a level because of their connection at the Straits of Mackinac, last year flirted with record highs set during 1986-87.

Hydrologists say if above-normal precipitation trends continue, all-time record highs for any month, set in October 1986, may be topped.

It is likely,” Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office chief John Allis, “that water levels on lakes Michigan and Huron will set new monthly mean record high levels over the next six months.

“This sets the stage for coastal impacts and damages in 2020 similar to, or worse than, what was experienced last year.”

Persistent wet conditions across the Great Lakes basin continue to drive high water levels. Many cities across the basin set records in 2019 for the wettest period on record. The warmer-than-normal temperatures in January led to greater runoff and reduced evaporation across much of the basin.

Late winter and spring is a period of seasonal rise on all the Great Lakes due to increased rainfall and runoff. Water levels typically peak in the summer or early fall.

Significant erosion continues in many locations as water levels remain high. Strong storm systems and resulting large waves have compounded problems.

The Detroit District monitors and forecasts Great Lakes water levels and provides the data and analysis on its website at lre.usace.army.mil.

To learn more, including about how to protect property and investments along the coast plus Corps programs that may assist you, go to lre.usace.army.mil/About/Great-Lakes-High-Water/