Superior level expected to be above average in 2018

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Trees near the McLain State Park shoreline struggle to hold on as Lake Superior near-record-high water levels and storms combined to cause extensive shoreline erosion. Lake levels are projected to be above average through the fall months and into 2018, according to an Army Corps of Engineers report released on Monday.

HOUGHTON– Lake Superior water levels are predicted to remain above average but decrease slightly in the coming months.

The US Army Corps of Engineers released its latest six-month Great Lakes water level forecast Monday.

“The lake levels of the Great Lakes themselves, especially on Lake Superior, are very high compared to their long-term averages, and Lake Superior has only been higher during the period of record-high during the 1980s,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Detroit District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The forecast is determined using current lake conditions and anticipated weather patterns. The projected levels are compared with averages from 1918 to 2015.

“We do expect that the water levels in the spring on Lake Superior to be a couple inches higher than they were during the spring of 2017, and that still remains within 3-4 inches or so below the record highs of 1986. … Higher than average water levels are projected to continue, at least into 2018,” Kompoltowicz said.

The projection indicates a drop in levels through December, January and February. Halfway through March, the downward trend is expected to reverse as water levels increase through the spring months of April and May. All the projected levels are above average but still below the records.

Levels on Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, St. Clair and Ontario are all above average, with Lake Ontario breaking records for May and June, the report found.

Projections indicate that lakeshore erosion issues could reappear in spring, but the spring dates have a wider range of possibilities and are difficult to pin down this far in advance.

These high water levels come after record lows around 2010 to 2013.