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Lake Huron Water Level Updates

We often get asked, "what is happening with the lake levels?!" 

This page provides you with up-to-date information and forecasted Lake Huron water levels.

For more information, and up-to-date readings, please refer to:

The Great Lakes Water Level Dashboard.

 

2021 forecast Conditions

"Lake Michigan-Huron will likely remain below record levels with average water supplies, but still much higher than average in the coming months. However, above average water supplies could bring the level above record levels in the coming months."

Quote from LEVELnews: Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River water levels, January 2021

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Current Conditions

 

"From December to January, Lake Michigan-Huron, and Lake St. Clair continued their seasonal decline by 3 inches. The 6-month forecast projects Michigan-Huron, and St. Clair will continue their seasonal declines over the next month until the seasonal rise in the spring. "
 

For more information please visit: The Monthly Bulletin for Great Lakes Water Levels.

Historical Conditions

 

What affects lake levels?

Water levels are influenced by:

Natural factors:  (MAJOR, changes in metres)

- Precipitation

- Evaporation & Ice cover

- Winds

- Runoff from rivers

- Inflow from upstream lakes

- Natural long-term fluctuations

Human-caused factors: (MINOR, changes in centimetres)

- Dredging

- Water withdrawals

- Water diversion

- Dams

** The Great Lakes are such a large system, human influences very minimally affect lake levels

 
 

HIGH VS. LOW

What do lake level extremes cause?

HIGH WATER:

- Flooding

- Loss of property depths

- Erosion

- Shoreline alteration

- Changes to wetland composition

LOW WATER:

- Boat access limitations

- Dredging

- Water supplies

- Coastal wetlands and habitat

- Challenges to shipping and boat transportation (e.g. ChiCheemaun)

** information gathered from: https://www.ontario.ca/page/managing-great-lakes-water-levels

ICE COVER Current Conditions

 

Below is the ice cover percentage as of February 7th, 2021, with approximately 25% ice cover. Stay tuned in the spring of 2021 for more updates, or visit the NOAA- Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

 
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Historical Conditions

Ice Cover Trends on Lake Huron 1973-2019
 

Winter Lake Evaporation

 

Water evaporating from Lake Huron's surface in winter contributes to lake level changes. "Evaporation from the Great Lakes generally peaks in the fall to early winter months, when the air temperature above the lakes drops, but the water remains relatively warmer and ice-free. The rate of evaporation from the lakes is dependent on a number of factors including wind speed, air temperature, water temperature, and ice cover. Significant evaporation occurs when dry cold air blows over warmer lake water; conditions encountered when air temperatures drop rapidly from above- to below freezing. When air temperatures drop quickly, and the lake is ice-free, watch for the mist above the surface of the lake as evidence that evaporation is occurring." More evaporation throughout the winter can contribute to lower lake levels the following year. Frequent years with low ice cover can insinuate dropping lake levels.

In the second chart below, Ice cover on Lake Huron has been monitored since 1973 by NOAA and Environment and Climate Change Canada. This graph shows a long-term decrease in average ice cover on Lake Huron from ~72% to ~58%.

 

Quote from: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/eccc/levelnews/2018/LEVELnews_12_2018_e.pdf

Ice on the shore

A frozen beach is the first ice feature to form on large deep lakes like Lake Huron. Waves drive slush ice to shore to form an ice foot. "Nearshore ice displaces wave energy lakeward, protecting the beach from wave-induced erosion, yet it may also contribute to erosion. Waves breaking against grounded ice ridges scour the lakebed. The lakebed may be gouged by contact with the keels of ice ridges or “ice islands” moved by the wind... An ice shove or ice push occurs when lake ice, moved by water currents or by wind (blowing over miles of ice), comes into contact with the shore. Ice is shoved up the shore away from the lake. Damage can result if the moving ice contacts structures, bluffs and banks. Ice shoves are unpredictable. The distance the ice moves onshore depends on whether the ice shove is a pile-up or ride-up event."

 

Quote from: USACE (2005) Living On the Coast.