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GLIN==> Lake Erie water level trend and forecast

Posted on behalf of Karen Ricker <ricker.15@osu.edu>


February 22,  2001

For more information contact:

Fred L. Snyder
Ohio Sea Grant Extension
Camp Perry, Bldg. 3, Rm. 12
Port Clinton, OH  43452
(419) 635-1022

Lake Erie's declining water level posed problems for boaters last summer,
and the downward trend may continue. Forecasts issued by NOAA's Great Lakes
Environmental Research Laboratory (GLERL) and the U.S. Army Corps of
Engineers call for summer 2001 lake levels to be several inches lower than
was experienced last year.

Forecasts released in early February call for Lake Erie's summer peak in
June to be as much as 8-10 inches lower than during last year's July peak
(see graphic at http://www.great-lakes.net/partners/forecast.gif).
rainfall in March and April could lessen the predicted decline, but the
lower lake
level trend will likely continue.

Moderate snowfall that has accumulated in the upper Great Lakes basin
normally would help raise Lake Erie's level, but much of the meltwater will
be retained by Lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron due to their current low

"Lake Superior is at its lowest level since 1926," said Dr. Frank Quinn, a
hydrologist with GLERL in Ann Arbor, MI.  "And Lake Michigan currently is
at its lowest level since 1965."  Dr. Quinn also said that besides
receiving below normal winter precipitation in the upper Great Lakes, the
region's ice coverage was also below normal. Open water allows continuous
evaporation of lake water, even during winter months.

Several years of persistent drought conditions have lowered Lake Erie's
water level more than four feet since its record high level in 1986.

"Lake Erie boaters should remain aware of minimum water depths in their
boating areas and of underwater obstructions such as reefs and shoals,"
cautioned Ohio Sea Grant Extension Specialist Fred Snyder. "Also remain
aware while boating on days with strong westerly and southwesterly winds,
which can temporarily lower the lake level further, making shallow harbors
difficult to re-enter."

Snyder said that although Lake Erie's February water level is nearly the
same as last winter, the lake is expected to rise less than normal during
the spring months.


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