The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Rise in lake levels tie for 1952 record

 

September 18, 2019

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

Lake Superior, seen here at Little Girl's Point Monday, and the other Great Lakes are experiencing record water levels this year.

By KIM E. STROM

kstrom@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood - High water levels in Lake Superior for the month of August 2019 have tied the record with that of 1952, according to Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of Watershed Hydrology, Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Detroit District monitors the Great Lakes water levels and makes the information available as a public service.

Since 1952, the average water level for Lake Superior has been 602.17 feet above sea level. This year it is up by about one foot to 603.22 feet, he said in a phone interview Thursday.

"August comes on the heels of very persistently wet weather over the past couple of years and a wet spring that have allowed the lake to rise very quickly, even though precipitation in August was lower than average," he said.

The high water levels are expected to continue for at least another six months. "We will have to see what the weather brings, especially over the winter and into next spring," he said.

"Depending on the locale, coastal erosion and very strong wave action could erode the shoreline," he said. "Very strong periods of onshore winds can cause significant flooding. These are still very high lake levels compared to 100 years ago."

The greatest impact people will notice along Lake Superior is a disappearing beach, said Lisa Klaus, public affairs specialist for the Ottawa National Forest, which oversees the Black River Harbor Recreation Area.

"There will be significantly less beach," she said. "But since the harbor is on an elevated area, the rising lake levels are not going to have an impact. As of now, the boat launch is open and being used."

As for the newly re-opened Saxon Harbor marina, "the higher water levels haven't really affected the overall operations," said Eric Peterson, Forest Administrator, "but it was a challenge during construction."

Plans for recontruction at the marina, which sustained major damage during a flash flood in 2016, took into consideration the higher water levels, said Peterson. "The high water levels also cause the continual closing of Oronto Creek," he said.

In a press release dated Sept. 5, 2019, the Army Corps reported new records were set as well this spring and summer for lakes Erie, Ontario, Michigan and Huron.

Lakes Erie and Ontario are the highest since 1918. "For those along the shoreline, it is a very concerning time given the threat of significant damage," said Kompoltowicz.

"Coastal shoreline property owners may want to consider applying for proposed shore protection permits now," said the press release.

 
 

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