The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit District, announced recently that despite a dry month of February across the Great Lakes basin, water levels on each of the Great Lakes remain very high going into the spring.

Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and Erie set new monthly records for February 2020. Those levels were previously reached on lakes Superior, Michigan, and Huron in 1986, and in 1987 on Lake Erie. Although 2020 started with wetter conditions, February was a fairly dry month for the Great Lakes basin with precipitation below average throughout the region. March 2020 was a fairly wet month, with precipitation near to above average across the region.

Late winter and spring is usually a period of seasonal rise on all of the Great Lakes due to increased rainfall and runoff. Water levels typically peak in the summer or early fall. Significant erosion continues in many locations as water levels remain extremely high. Strong storm systems and resulting large waves have led to substantial erosion along much of the Great Lakes coastline.

“After a generally drier month of February, March brought a return to wetter conditions experienced across the Great Lakes basin,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office, Detroit District. “During this period of seasonal rise for the Great Lakes, near or above record high water levels will continue to cause impacts along the shoreline.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urged those impacted by the high water levels in 2019 to prepare for similar or higher levels in 2020. The most recent six-month forecast of Great Lakes water levels still forecasts that water levels could peak very near last year’s record levels.

During response operations, Detroit District Emergency Management Office conducts emergency operations to save lives and protect specific properties – which includes providing technical support and direct support during flood operations. Assistance is supplemental to local and state efforts and normally at the request of the state’s governor or local municipality.

In addition, area citizens may decide to work on personal construction projects to alleviate erosion or flooding, which could potentially impact the nation’s rivers, streams, wetlands and other aquatic resources that may require a permit from the Corps of Engineers Regulatory Office.

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Lee Matz