The Army Corp of Engineers released provisional statistics this month showing that Lake Superior received only about 50% of its normal precipitation in January, while Lake Michigan-Huron’s precipitation was near normal. 

NOAA’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory reports that ice cover on the Great Lakes has been steadily decreasing in recent weeks and is now at a historic low for mid-February. Researches state that the low amount of ice hasn’t impacted lake levels which are nearly the same as a year ago and slightly above the long-term average.

Army Corp of Engineers - February 2024 Lake level statistics

Michigan-Huron and Ontario are currently near last year’s level. All Great Lakes except Superior are forecasted to be above their long-term average water levels for February, with St. Clair and Erie being 17 inches above. Lakes Michigan-Huron and Ontario are forecasted to be 4 inches above their long-term average for February. The projected change in water levels for next month is Lake Superior decreasing by 2 inches and Ontario increasing by 3 inches. Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie are projected to remain near their current levels.

According to the updated Great Lakes water levels 6-month forecast, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron will continue their seasonal declines in February. Lake St. Clair is expected to decline marginally, while Lakes Erie and Ontario are predicted to rise 3 to 4 inches.

Lake Michigan water levels are currently 16 inches above chart datum.

Army Corp of Engineers – February 2024 Lake level forecast

An updated weekly report can be found at the Army Corp of Engineers Weekly Great Lakes Water Level Update.

Great Lakes Seasonal Cycles Explained

Water levels follow a seasonal cycle where during the fall and early winter, the lakes generally decline due to an increase in evaporation as temperatures decline and cold air moves over the relatively warm lake waters. In the spring and early summer, water levels typically rise due to increased precipitation and enhanced runoff from snowmelt.

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This article was complied from reports issued by the Army Corp of Engineers and NOAA

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