Great Lakes Water Levels Current and Historical Data & Graphs (April 2022 Update)

Each month we summarize reports and data from the Army Corps of Engineers – Detroit District’s Monthly and Weekly reports for Great Lakes Water Levels and Great Lakes Water Level History. We present a single-page view of the changes in lakes levels from month to month are presented for Lakes Huron-Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario, and Lake St. Clair.


Great Lakes Basin Weather Conditions Over the Past Month Affecting Water Levels

According to preliminary calculations, the Great Lakes basin got above-average precipitation in March. The precipitation in Lake Superior was slightly over average, while Lake Michigan-Huron received 146 percent of the average. Both Lakes Erie and Ontario got 82 percent of the usual amount of precipitation. Precipitation throughout the different lake basins has ranged from 84 percent to 102 percent during the last 12 months. All lakes had above-average water supplies, with the exception of Lake Erie, which had below-average water levels. Outflows remain above average except for outflow from Lake Superior, which is below average.

Water levels on Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron fell less than an inch from February to March, indicating that they have likely reached their seasonal low and will begin to climb in the following month. From February through March, the waters of Lakes St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario all climbed. The flow of the St. Clair River was no longer impeded by thick ice, and Lake St. Clair rose 10 inches. Both Lakes Erie and Ontario rose 4 inches. The 6-month Great Lakes water level prediction predicts that over the next month, all of the lakes will begin or continue their seasonal increase.

Outflow Estimates Affecting Great Lakes Levels

The discharge of Lake Superior via the St. Marys River is expected to be below normal in April, according to forecasts. Outflows from Lake Michigan-Huron through the St. Clair River, Lake St. Clair into Detroit, Lake Erie into the Niagara River, and Lake Ontario through the St. Lawrence River are expected to be above average in April, according to forecasts.

Weather Impact

The Great Lakes area has been experiencing below-average temperatures for the previous week. It’s also been a busy weather week, with many systems passing through the area and dumping numerous rounds of rain. A quarter-inch to an inch of precipitation fell over the region, with some of it falling in the shape of snow due to the cooler temperatures. Precipitation is expected to continue over the following week, with much of the basin receiving over a half-inch of liquid-equivalent precipitation.

Except For Lake Ontario, All The Great Lake Water Levels Remain Below Last Year But Remained Above Long Term Average

On all lakes, forecasted water levels for the first week of April are lower than last year’s levels, with the exception of Lake Ontario, which is 20 inches higher than last year’s levels. The water levels on Lakes Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, Erie, and Ontario are 3 to 5 inches higher than they were a month ago as the lakes continue their yearly increase. The anticipated level for April 8th is 2 inches below Chart Datum, and it is still below its monthly average level for April. All of the other lakes are still above their long-term April averages. Water levels on all lakes are expected to climb 4 to 5 inches in the next month.

Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels

Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels April 2022
Lakes Michigan-Huron Water Levels April 2022

Last Month’s Observations Water Levels Lakes Michigan-Huron

On January 28, 2022, the water level is forecasted at 579.30 feet. Lake Michigan-Huron had dropped 18 inches since January 2021 and dropped another 4 inches over the past month. Levels were down 27 inches below the monthly high mean record set in 2020. Lake Huron remains at 39 inches above the record monthly low, set in 2013. The lakes are expected to drop by one inch through mid-February 2022. Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to stay above its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022. For reporting purposes, Lakes Michigan-Huron is the same body of water.

Current Month’s Water Levels for Lakes Michigan-Huron

On April 8, 2022, the water level is forecasted at 579.49 feet. Lake Michigan-Huron had dropped 12 inches since April 2021 but rose 4 inches over the past month. Levels were down 26 inches below the monthly high mean record set in 2020. Lake Huron remains at 40 inches above the record monthly low, set in 1964. The lakes are expected to rise by four inches through mid-May 2022. Lake Michigan-Huron is expected to stay above its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022. For reporting purposes, Lakes Michigan-Huron is the same body of water.

Lake Superior Water Level

Lake Superior Water Level April 2022
Lake Superior Water Level April 2022

Last Month’s Observations for Lake Superior

As of January 28, 2022, the Lake Superior water level is forecasted to be 601.02 feet. This is 4 inches less than the levels reported last month and 13 inches less than reported last year. This is 20 inches less than the high record monthly mean water level set in 2020 and 14 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1926. Over the next month, Lake Superior is expected to drop by two inches. Lake Superior is expected to stay at or slightly below its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022.

Current Month’s Water Level For Lake Superior

As of April 8, 2022, the Lake Superior water level is forecasted to be 600.95 feet. This is no change in levels reported last month and 13 inches less than reported last year. This is 20 inches less than the high record monthly mean water level set in 1986 and 18 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1926. Over the next month, Lake Superior is expected to drop by two inches. Lake Superior is expected to stay at or slightly below its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022.

Lake St. Clair Water Level

Lake St. Clair Water Levels April 2022
Lake St. Clair Water Levels April 2022

Last Month’s Observations for Lake St. Clair

As of January 28, 2022, Lake St. Clair’s water level is forecasted to be 574.70 feet. The lake dropped 4 inches in the past month and 17 inches less than reported last year. This is 25 inches less than the high record monthly mean water level set in 20206 and 51 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1936. Over the next month, Lake St. Clair is expected to increase by 6 inches through mid-February. Lake St. Clair is expected to stay above its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022.

Current Month’s Water Level for Lake St. Clair

As of January 28, 2022, Lake St. Clair’s water level is forecasted to be 575.43 feet. The lake rose 3 inches in the past month but is 5 inches less than reported last year. This is 20 inches less than the high record monthly mean water level set in 2020 and 42 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1926. Over the next month, Lake St. Clair is expected to increase by 4 inches through mid-May. Lake St. Clair is expected to stay above its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022.

Lake Erie Water Level

Lake Erie Water Levels April 2022
Lake Erie Water Levels April 2022

Last Month’s Observations for Lake Erie

As of January 28, 2022, Lake Erie’s water level is forecasted to be 572.51 feet. This is four inches less from the recorded lake level last month and 7 inches less than what was recorded last year. This is 14 inches less than the record high water level set in 1987 and 51 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1935. Over the next month, Lake Erie is expected to drop by 2 inches. Lake Erie is expected to stay above its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022.

Current Month’s Water Level for Lake Erie

As of April 8, 2022, Lake Erie’s water level is forecasted to be 572.80 feet. This is four inches more from the recorded lake level last month but 1 inch less than what was recorded last year. This is 18 inches less than the record high water level in 2020 and 48 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1934. Over the next month, Lake Erie is expected to rise by 4 inches. Lake Erie is expected to stay above its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022.

Lake Ontario Water Level

Lake Ontario Water Levels April 2022

Last Month’s Observations for Lake Ontario

As of January 28, 2022, Lake Ontario’s water level is forecasted to be 245.70 feet. This is one inch higher change from the past month, and 12 inches higher than measured last year. This is 11 inches less than the record high monthly mean water level set in 1946 and 43 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1935. Over the next month, Lake Ontario is expected to drop by 2 inches. Lake Ontario is expected to be slightly above its long-term monthly mean water level well into 2022.

Current Month’s Water Level for Lake Ontario

As of April 8, 2022, Lake Ontario’s water level is forecasted to be 246.33 feet. This is five inches higher change from the past month and 20 inches higher than measured last year. This is 22 inches less than the record high monthly mean water level set in 1973 and 41 inches higher than the lowest record set in 1935. Over the next month, Lake Ontario is expected to drop by 2 inches. Lake Ontario is expected to drop below its long-term monthly mean water level later in 2022.


December – January 2022 Downbound Outflows Below Average For Superior, Above Average For Rest of Great Lakes

According to forecasts, Lake Superior’s discharge through the St. Marys River will be lower than usual in December. According to forecasts, Lake Michigan-Huron outflow through St. Clair River and Lake St. Clair outflow into Detroit River will be higher than typical in December. Lake Erie’s outflow into the Niagara River is expected to be above average in December, while Lake Ontario’s outflow through the St. Lawrence River is expected to be above average.


Great Lakes Water Levels Future Scenarios

These scenarios are intended to depict events that might occur under historical weather and water supply conditions, with scenarios chosen based on similarity to current conditions. Based on past hydrologic conditions and water supplies, this tool has mostly been used to depict the likely range of Great Lakes water levels in the future year.

Great Lakes Water levels follow a cyclical cycle, with lakes often declining during the autumn and early winter owing to increased evaporation as temperatures drop and cold air flows over the comparatively warm lake waters. Water levels often rise in the spring as a result of higher precipitation and increased runoff from melting. The combined impact of precipitation over the lake, evaporation from the lake, and runoff to the lake is referred to as Net Basin Supply (NBS).

A La Nia is expected to have an influence on the final few months of Great Lakes water levels in 2021 and the beginning of 2022. If a La Nia develops during the winter months, it will be the second winter in a row with La Nia conditions.

The graphs below feature a purple plume representing 10 years where La Nia conditions occurred the previous winter and developed again the following year. Because a La Nia developed in the winter of 2020-21 and is predicted to form again in the winter of 2021-22, the years included in the plume would indicate the second year of La Nia conditions. Three years inside the plume have been chosen to demonstrate the variation in hydroclimate.


Lake Superior Lake Level Forecast Through 2022

Lake Superior Level Forecast Thru 2022
Lake Superior Mean Water Levels Thru 2022

Among all Great Lakes water levels forecasted, Lake Superior’s water levels are expected to drop below their long-term average in 2022.


Lakes Michigan-Huron Forecast Through 2022

Lakes Michigan-Huron Mean Water Levels Thru 2022
Lakes Michigan-Huron Mean Water Levels Thru 2022

Among all Great Lakes water levels forecasted, Lakes Michigan-Huron is expected to continue to be above its long-term average in 2022.


Lake St.Clair Forecast Through 2022

Lake St.Clair Mean Water Levels Thru 2022
Lake St.Clair Mean Water Levels Thru 2022

Among all Great Lakes water levels forecasted, Lake St.Clair is expected to continue to be above its long-term average in 2022.


Lake Erie Forecast Through 2022

Lake Erie Mean Water Levels Thru 2022
Lake Erie Mean Water Levels Thru 2022

Among all Great Lakes water levels forecasted, Lake Erie is expected to continue to be above its long-term average in 2022.


Great Lakes Water Levels Data 1919-2021

Below are the monthly mean average water levels for each of the Great Lakes. All levels are referenced to the International Great Lakes Datum of 1985 (IGLD 85). Water levels have been coordinated with Canada for 1918-2020.

Great Lakes Water Levels 1919-2021
Great Lakes Water Levels 1919-2021

Dynamic Great Lakes – Lake Level Viewer – From NOAA


Key Questions on Great Lakes Water Levels

Are Great Lakes water levels climbing or receding?

All the Great Lake water levels remain above their long-term average. Except for Lake Superior, all the Great Lakes are expected to remain above their long-term averages for the next five years.

Why are Great Lakes water levels staying so high?

Water levels follow a seasonal cycle where water levels rise in the spring due to increased precipitation and enhanced runoff from snowmelt. In the fall, the lakes generally decline due to an increase in evaporation as temperatures decline and cold air moves over the relatively warm lake waters. However, the high rates of precipitation in the Upper Great Lakes have kept overall lake levels high


Great Lakes Water Levels Reading from Amazon

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Related Reading Great Lakes Water Levels Forecasts 2021

Current Great Lakes Ice Coverage Winter 2021-2022 – Dynamically update data from NOAA and the National Weather Sevice on total Great Lakes Ice Cover

2020 Could Set New Record Water Levels Across Great Lakes – 2020 lake levels made it a record year.

Lake Huron Water Levels Approached Historic Lows – In 2012 dry conditions were suggesting that the Great Lakes could hit record lows not seen since 1964.

Great Lakes Ice Coverage and Water Levels in 2020 – Ice coverage of the Great Lakes for the Winter of 2020-2021

Low Water Levels in Great Lakes Threatened Marinas – The low lake levels in 2012 force marinas to dredge and alter the boating season

Michigan Wind Energy Map Updated – Current and forecasted wind farm projects in Michigan

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