Superior levels down, still high

Kali Katerberg/Daily Mining Gazette Waves are seen hitting the shore on Lake Superior near Copper Harbor. Water levels are close to average after a near-historic 2017.

HOUGHTON — The near-historic Lake Superior water levels observed last year are currently closer to average and forecasted to remain so as the fall storm season approaches.

The 2017 high water levels began to rise midway through the year and above average wet conditions in the winter months kept the levels up. A dry March and April helped bring those numbers down near the average, a trend holding true presently.

“Our August level was just four inches above average and we’re actually five inches below last year’s levels. So we are tracking below last year,” said Deanna Apps, a physical scientist with the Army Corps of Engineers.

Last month’s precipitation in the Superior basin proved to be slightly below average, possibly contributing.

“In Superior we’re expecting a slight rise into September but then we expect to see a seasonal decline so we’re getting to that time of year where evaporation starts to take over,” Apps explained. “By October we should start to see that lake go down.”

Some lakes are already declining but Superior typically proves to be slower due to its location and size.

The lower levels could be good news for shoreline erosion seen last year but that will also depend on the fall storms themselves.

“The closer we get to average the better but that’s really up to mother nature,” Apps said.

She feels the current high water levels are part of the typical patterns seen regionally based off of wet or dry conditions.