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:
"All the lakes except for Lake Ontario had record high average levels for the month of February, with Lakes Michigan-Huron and Erie topping their previous record by 14 cm and 12 cm, respectively. Both Lakes Michigan-Huron and Erie started March at record high levels for the month, while Lake Superior was tied for its second highest."
"Lake Michigan-Huron has the highest likelihood to remain above record levels in the next few months, as average conditions would still see record highs throughout the spring and into the summer."
"Lake Michigan–Huron went down by 6 cm during the month of February, while it typically declines by only 1 cm... Lake Michigan–Huron’s beginning-of-March level was 94 cm above average and 38 cm higher than its level at the same time last year. This is the highest in the period of record, with a level that is 13 cm higher than the previous beginning-ofmonth record for March set in 1986."
2020 forecast Conditions
"At this time of year, all of the lakes are beginning or continuing their typical seasonal rise going into
the summer. Lakes Michigan-Huron and Erie have the highest likelihood to remain above record
levels in the next few months, as average conditions would still see record highs throughout the
spring and into the summer"
Quote from LEVEL news
What affects lake levels?
Water levels are influenced by:
Natural factors: (MAJOR, changes in metres)
- Evaporation & Ice cover
- Runoff from rivers
- Inflow from upstream lakes
- Natural long-term fluctuations
Human-caused factors: (MINOR, changes in centimetres)
- Water withdrawals
- Water diversion
** The Great Lakes are such a large system, human influences very minimally affect lake levels
HIGH VS. LOW
What do lake level extremes cause?
- Loss of property depths
- Shoreline alteration
- Changes to wetland composition
- Boat access limitations
- 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
Ice is out on Lake Huron for Spring 2020! Tune back in fall 2020 for more updates.
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%.
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.