TRAVERSE CITY — Federal and local experts said Lakes Michigan and Huron may be at or near peak levels before the seasonal drop is expected to begin later this month.
That comes after June set yet another high-water-level record on the two Great Lakes — breaking by nearly 5 inches the high mark previously set during notorious Great Lakes high water year 1986. The two lakes are considered one hydrological body.
Additionally, July started off about 3 inches higher than the standing July high-water-level record, according to statistics released by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
“The good news is we shouldn’t be going up any more at this point,” said Deanna Apps, USACE physical scientist in the Detroit district.
In fact, she said this month’s high water level on Lakes Michigan-Huron is expected to be about the same as last months.
That’s a prediction, though.
“You also never know what can happen by the end of the month,” Apps said.
The high water levels on Lake Michigan even caused the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy to lift up a section of boardwalk at Arcadia Marsh Nature Preserve.
“When strong winds or a big storm comes in we’d noticed the water would lap over the boardwalk for a section,” said Jennifer Jay, conservancy communications director.
She said the universal access trail was designed and built to be able to both raise and lower the boardwalk height given where Great Lakes water levels are. The plan is to lift up by 10 inches an approximately 200-foot section this week, she said.
Much of the Arcadia Marsh boardwalk will be closed during the work, but Jay said plans are to reopen the site after the targeted completion date next week on Wednesday.
Mark Breederland, educator at Michigan State University Extension in Traverse City, said it appears the water levels on Lake Michigan are cresting this month. He said he’s not yet ready to breathe a complete sigh of relief, though.
In 1986, Breederland said a major thunderstorm ripped across the Great Lakes in October and drove the levels up by 4 inches. That was after levels had begun to decrease, he said.
However, Breeederland said recent dry and hot weather seems to have allowed for Great Lakes water levels to hover — at least for now.
“I think we just have to hang on through it,” he said.
Recent hot temperatures and sunny conditions have helped to raise the water temperatures in the big lakes, Breederland said, which will help increase autumn evaporation rates when cold air passes across the warmed inland freshwater seas.
Officials recorded June water levels on all the other Great Lakes at below records set for that month just last year.
Only Lake St. Clair measured slightly above last year’s record high level, according to USACE statistics.
“When strong winds or a big storm comes in we’d noticed the water would lap over the boardwalk for a section.” Jennifer Jay, Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy