Tags: lake | michigan | huron | levels

Water Levels in Two Great Lakes Plunge to Record Low Levels

Wednesday, 06 Feb 2013 05:16 PM

By Cyrus Afzali

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The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reported water levels for Lake Michigan and Lake Huron reached their lowest levels ever in January, the second consecutive month a record low reading was posted.

The Corps’ Detroit District office said the new record low of 175.57 meters, or 576.02 feet, is not only the lowest January monthly average water level ever recorded, but also the lowest monthly average for any period since water levels for the Great Lakes first started being recorded in 1918.

“Not only have water levels on Michigan-Huron broken records the past two months, but they have been very near record lows for the last several months,” said John Allis, chief of the Corps’ Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office. “Lake Michigan-Huron’s water levels have also been below average for the past 14 years, which is the longest period of sustained below average levels since 1918 for that lake.”

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The Corps attributes the record low levels to below average snowfall for the winter of 2011-2012, combined with a hot and dry summer last year. Those factors led to a seasonal rise of only four inches in 2012, compared to an average rise of 12 inches. The report also said evaporation was significantly higher than normal.

The Corps also cautioned that above-average precipitation and snow levels, along with lower evaporation rates over the winter, will be needed to prompt Lake Michigan-Huron water levels to rise above record lows.

Lake Michigan-Huron is the name given to the combined waters of Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, which are joined by the Straits of Mackinac.

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