Great Lakes levels running high

Point Betsie, sunset
The sunset over Lake Michigan at Point Betsie. (Courtesy Thurston De Vos, file)


GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Higher-than-usual water on Lake Michigan means beach-goers will have less beach to enjoy come this summer.

The sixth wettest April on record dumped massive amounts of water into Lake Michigan, especially early in the month. Within a stretch of 14 days (April 7 to 21) the lake rose a whopping 1.56 trillion gallons.

According to the latest monthly report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Michigan has reportedly risen an impressive 7 inches. One inch gained on Lake Michigan correlates to 390 billion gallons of water. That means over the month of April, Lake Michigan experienced an increase of 2.73 trillion gallons!

Lake Michigan Water Level Stats as of May 3rd, 2017

Water levels on all of the Great Lakes have risen and remain above their long-term average levels for April. The current rise has put the lake about 14 inches higher than usual.  Except for Lake Erie, all of the lakes are forecast to continue to rise over the next month. Lake Michigan is expected to crest in July before slowly receding.

While the water on Lake Michigan is much higher than average, it still isn’t has high as the peak seen in the summer of 2016.

Graph showing past water levels (blue) for Lake Michigan from 1998 to now. Red represents projected levels

Lake Michigan water was low for more than a decade before this recent surplus the last few years. The slump lasted from 1998 through 2012.

The highest the lake has ever been in the month of April was 1986. It was a good six inches higher than this year, which means the lake was holding 2.34 trillion gallons more than right now. The lowest water level ever recorded in April was in 1964, when the lake was 37 inches below normal.

The lake is expected to continue to rise through July of this year before dropping due to expected increased sun angle and evaporation. By early May, experts expect the lake to rise an additional 2 inches.

Water levels expected to climb another 2 inches by early May

River levels also continue to be high. According to Bill Steffen, the Grand River in Grand Rapids was at 234% of average flow for May 3rd. Rain Thursday will mostly miss Grand Rapids, but the Grand River starts in the northeast corner of Hillsdale County flowing north through Jackson, Lansing and Ionia. Bill says because of this, waters may rise in Grand Rapids because the headwaters of the Grand should get a lot of rain.