DETROIT – U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces that January 2020 water levels were higher on all lakes than they were in January 2019, and are expected to continue that trend into the spring and summer.
According to Corps records, lakes Michigan and Huron both set new record high January levels, previously set in 1987. Lake Superior set new record high January levels previously set in 1986. Lake St. Clair tied its record high level set in January 1986.
“It is likely that water levels on lakes Michigan and Huron will set new monthly mean record high levels over the next six months,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office, Detroit District. “This sets the stage for coastal impacts and damages in 2020 similar to, or worse than, what was experienced last year.”
The Corps urges those impacted by the high water levels of 2019 to prepare for similar or higher levels again in 2020. The most recent six-month forecast of Great Lakes water levels shows water levels continuing to be well above average and near record high levels over this period.
The Detroit District monitors and forecasts Great Lakes’ water levels and provides the data and analysis on its website www.lre.usace.army.mil.
According to the Corps, several natural factors contribute to the record high lake levels. 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 Great Lakes basin.
Late winter and spring is a period of seasonal rise on all of the Great Lakes due to increased rainfall and runoff. The Corps said water levels typically peak in the summer or early fall. Significant erosion continues in many locations as water levels remain extremely high. Strong storm systems and resulting large waves have led to substantial erosion along much of the Great Lakes coastline.
To find more information about Great Lakes high water visit https://www.lre.usace.army.mil/About/Great-Lakes-High-Water/ which includes information about how to protect property and investments along the coast and related Corps programs and authorities.