Lake Michigan Water At Highest Level In 16 Years

May 27, 2016

Another foot of water means higher waves, which means more erosion of beaches.
Credit Ralf Huelsmann/WIki Commons

Lake Michigan’s water level is currently a foot higher than its long-term average of 578.8 feet. Lead forecaster at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit District Lauren Fry points to higher than average rain and snow levels.

“The reason they’re so high really started during 2013 and 2014 when the lakes had above average water supplies,” she says.

With more water entering the lakes, and the same amount of water leaving the lakes, water levels have gone up.

An extra foot of lake is a big deal. As wind blows across Lake Michigan, it creates waves, which chew up the sand in shallow water and erode the lake bed.

“That wave energy now has much easier access to the bluffs and the beaches, areas that we care more about," says Jim Selegean, a hydraulic engineer with the Army Corps.

No readily available data on erosion rates for Indiana’s coast exists. But Selegean says Indiana’s sandy shoreline is at greater risk of erosion during high water periods.

The Army Corps forecasts Lake Michigan’s water levels will stay high over the next six months.