Wicked Weather Week: Great Lakes water levels

California and much of the west coast and southwest are hammered by drought. Here in Michigan, we're surrounded by the Great Lakes, which are higher than average. How long will that last?

Now that the snow and ice are really gone, The splendor of the Great Lakes  is all around us here in southeast Michigan. The beauty and joy and Importance of our fresh-water highway has never been more important or vital. 

The Great Lakes and Michigan commerce, transportation, agriculture and recreation are all woven together and they have been for hundreds of years.  

The first lock at St. Marie connecting Lake Superior to the other lakes was opened in 1797. The first well and canal to get around Niagara Falls opened in 1829.   

Weather and water levels are constantly changing from season to season and year to year. Higher water levels mean freighters can carry heavier loads. It also means fun for the boaters but erosion and coastal flooding.

Lower water levels are unfriendly to recreation. Making make some harbors unusable.  

When the water is high, more people on the water. If a storm rolls through and produces high winds, lightning, and even waterspouts, that day trip to the beach can turn ugly.

With heavier snows and more rain over the last few years, especially across the Lake Superior basin, something quite dramatic has occurred: We've seen a sharp increase in water levels in the central lakes since spring of 2014.  

These are levels we haven't seen since the late 1990s. 

Now, if you're not a boater or don't have business on the lakes, you may have not noticed this great change. The obvious question is what will lake levels do in the future?

Government meteorologists and hydrologists in the US and Canada are evaluating weather patterns and lake-level measurements are fairly certain that higher than average water levels will continue for the rest of the year.  

One thing is certain though spring and summer storms can come up very quickly. Always get the latest forecast before heading to the beach or your boat and recognize the inherent dangers of the mighty Great Lakes.   
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