Great Lakes Water Levels

2020 Great Lakes Current and Historical Water Levels [August Update]

Updated August 26th. The Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit District’s reports as of August 2020 for Great Lakes Water Levels and Great Lakes Water Level History.

According to preliminary estimates, precipitation in the Great Lakes watershed was just above average for July. Lakes Michigan-Huron and Ontario observations indicate above normal July precipitation, at 127% and 115% of average, respectively. Lake Superior was very close to its average (1900-2017) for the month of July at 101%. Lake Erie was the only basin that received below-average precipitation, at 83% of its typical July value. Water supplies to Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron were above average, likely a result of at or above-average precipitation paired with enhanced runoff. Water supplies to Lake Erie were below average, which can be attributed to drier basin conditions overall. Water supplies to Lake Ontario were slightly below average, which was likely influenced by enhanced evaporation.

Lakes Michigan-Huron continues its record-setting pace into August, which was previously set in 1986. All of the Great Lakes except for Lake Ontario hit record highs in 2020. These levels project to make 2020 a record year.

Lakes Michigan and Huron are still projected to peak above last year’s levels then estimate the Great Lakes water level dropping under the record starting in September.

Current Great Lakes Water Level Projections

Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels August 2020

Lake Superior’s projected level for August 21st is 3 inches below the lake’s level of a year ago, while Lake Michigan-Huron’s projected level is 4 inches higher than it was at this time last year. The expected level on August 21st of Lake St. Clair nearly matches last year’s level, while the levels of Lakes Erie and Ontario are 5 and 18 inches, respectively, below their levels of a year ago. Lake Superior’s forecasted August 21st level approximates its level of a month ago, while the other lakes are below what they were a month ago by a range of 2 to 6 inches. In addition, Lake Michigan-Huron’s projected August 21st level is an inch above its record-high August monthly level, while Lake St. Clair’s level matches its August record-high monthly level. Looking forward a month to September 21st, Lake Superior is expected to be near its projected August 21st level, while the levels of Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are predicted to be 2, 4, 3, and 6 inches, respectively, lower than their projected August 21st levels.

2020 Yearly Great Lakes Water Level History

February was a fairly dry month throughout the Great Lakes basin. Well, below-average precipitation occurred in each of the lake basins with Lake Superior receiving just 40% of average precipitation during the month. April brought heavy rainfall to some areas, however, the month as a whole was quite dry for the Great Lakes region. During the spring, water levels typically rise on the Great Lakes due to increased rainfall and runoff. In June the entire Great Lakes basin was slightly below average precipitation.

Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels August 2020

Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron experienced precipitation that was near to slightly above average, while in the Lakes Erie and Ontario basins precipitation was well below average at 67% and 55% of average, respectively.

Great Lakes Water Level Outflows

Lake St.Clair Water Level August 2020

This is now the 8th consecutive month Lake Michigan-Huron has set a record high monthly mean
level. Also, the August 2020 level was 4 inches above its August 2019 level and 33 inches above its August Long Term Average level.

Lake Superior’s outflow through the St. Mary’s River and Lake Michigan-Huron’s outflow through the St. Clair River are projected to be above average in August. Also, Lake St. Clair’s outflow into the Detroit River is predicted to be above average in August. Moreover, Lake Erie’s outflow into the Niagara River and Lake Ontario’s outflow into the St. Lawrence River are forecasted to be above average for August.


Daily Great Lakes Water Levels History

The report below is a view of long-term, basin-scale hydrological data for the Laurentian Great Lakes. Water levels are continuously observed by U.S. and Canadian federal agencies in the region through binational cooperation. NOAA-GLERL relies on this water level data to conduct research on components of the regional water budget and to improve predictive models.

Water level monitoring stations are operated by NOAA’s Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans’ Canadian Hydrographic Service. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Detroit, Chicago, Buffalo) and Environment and Climate Change Canada play crucial roles in research, coordination of data and operational seasonal water level forecasts for the basin.


Michigan Wind Farms

Wind Turbines

Michigan Windfarm Map – Comprehensive map of wind farm projects. Including those planned, under construction or canceled. Data also included decommissioned wind farm projects. Updated as new information is available.

Michigan Windfarm Accidents – A historical record and map of indents occurring on wind and solar energy industrial sites. Incidents include those involving transport of materials to wind farm projects. Updated as information is available.