Lake St. Clair 14 inches below May 2020 levels

By: Kristyne E. Demske | Metro | Published May 25, 2021

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METRO DETROIT — Water levels on the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair are expected to continue to rise throughout the spring, but they are 1-2 feet lower than the record-breaking levels seen in 2019 and 2020, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District.

Lake St. Clair was about 2 inches higher on May 14 than it was at the same date in April, but that level is 14 inches lower than what was recorded in May 2020, although it is still 17 inches higher than the long-term monthly average for May.

“Dry conditions have continued for most of the Great Lakes region, with the exception of the Lake Superior basin, which experienced above-average precipitation in April,” said John Allis, chief of the Detroit District Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office, in a press release. “These drier conditions have resulted in lake levels that are much lower than the record highs of recent years.”

Lake levels typically begin a seasonal rise in the spring due to increased precipitation and runoff. Allis said coastal flooding and erosion are still possible during periods of active weather and increased wave action.

The Army Corps forecasts Lake St. Clair to rise another two inches in the next month. The Great Lakes basin is in its sixth consecutive month of below-average precipitation, and the Army Corps’ six-month forecast, through October, indicates that water levels will remain below the record high levels but still above average for all lakes except Lake Ontario, which is forecasted to have below-average levels over the next six months.

When preparing to spend time on the water this summer, the Army Corps of Engineers is urging those using the water to practice boat and water safety by staying up-to-date on current weather conditions and beach hazard statements; taking care when walking on breakwater structures, as they can be slippery and have uneven surfaces; being prepared with all U.S. Coast Guard-required equipment, including life jackets, a throwable device and fire extinguisher on board; wearing a life jacket and being aware of a swimmer’s abilities; abstaining from alcohol while boating or swimming; and understanding “boater’s hypnosis,” wherein the effects of sun, wind, noise, vibration and motion experienced during a day of boating can slow reaction times nearly as much as being intoxicated.

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