What is causing higher water levels?
Changes in weather – fluctuating temperatures and heavy rain or snow, for example – can significantly affect water levels on lakes, rivers and streams. In fact, the Great Lakes are at their highest levels in more than 30 years, and that means people need to be aware of greater risk to personal safety, potential property damage along shorelines and effects on fish and wildlife.
High waters are caused by several factors, including wetter-than-normal conditions over the last six years and above-average winter ice coverage (which slows down evaporation). Michigan is experiencing the wettest one-, three- and five-year periods since data recording started 120 years ago.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers forecast that Lake Michigan water levels will be a foot higher in 2020 than during spring 2019. That could create the highest spring waters ever recorded on Lake Michigan, and effects from that could carry into summer, too. High-water problems include erosion, flooding, increased river flows, submerged docks and boat ramps, property damage, swimming and boating hazards and damage to wildlife habitat.