Channel Buoy Aground at Caseville Harbor

Will El Niño Dry Up The Great Lakes?

The Detroit Offices of the Army Corps of Engineers are noting that  regional climatic forecasts are currently influenced by strong El Niño conditions. These conditions,  which may be extreme , are anticipated to continue throughout the winter and into the spring 2016. Climate forecasts show warm winter temperatures accompanied by drier conditions, especially after November. The outlook graphics show monthly mean water levels that could significantly drop over the next year. This potential mirrors the current water levels and the conditions that were experienced during the two strongest El Niño periods on record 1982-83 and 1997-98.

Lake LevelsThe 12-month water level outlook was produced by simulating the routing of an ensemble of 12-month sequences of Net Basin Supply (NBS, which represents the combined impacts of precipitation over the lake, runoff to the lake, and evaporation from the lake). The ensemble consists of 12-month NBS sequences taken directly from the coordinated record of residual net basin supply. The grey shaded area depicts the range of possible water level outcomes given current existing conditions and the range of NBS that has previously been observed. The red and blue lines represent projected water levels simulated using NBS sequences that correspond with the two strongest El Niño periods on record (blue: 1982-83 and red: 1997-98). The most recent coordinated 6-month forecast is also shown for comparison.

2013-14 was the lowest recorded water levels in lakes Michigan-Huron since 1963.

Information provided by Arrmy Corps of Engineers – Detroit


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