“Typically water levels drop in the fall and winter and go up in the spring, but we didn’t see much of a rise this spring,” said Craig Stow, a researcher at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s Great Lakes Environmental Research Lab in Ann Arbor. “It’s always a balance between evaporation and precipitation, and when the water is warm, you get a lot of evaporation.”
Lake Michigan now is 23 inches below the long-term average, said Mark Breederland, an extension educator for the Michigan Sea Grant. And lakes Michigan and Huron are in the midst of a decade-long stretch of below-average water levels, said hydrologist Keith Kompoltowicz at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District.
The corps has forecasted water-level ranges for Lake Michigan that may possibly break the record low, set in 1964.
“The Great Lakes are dynamic, living ecosystems that change from one day to the next,” said Jennifer McKay, a policy specialist at the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey. She said that low water levels in Lake Michigan “have been a concern for many years to many different entities.”