Lake Erie water levels finally going down – for now!

Mar 17, 2021 | Featured | 0 comments

Folks wandering the Port Clinton beaches along Lake Erie are finding a little more room this week, with water levels on the big lake about 16 inches lower than a year ago at this time, exposing more sand. (Photo by D’Arcy Patrick Egan)

BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN

The relatively mild weather has lured a legion of folks back to the shores of Lake Erie, whether to escape the Covid Blues or to marvel at the amount of sand they have to roam.

“It’s been pretty spectacular, the way the water levels have been coming down,” said Port Clinton Mayor Mike Snider. He’s not suggesting the high-water woes are over.

“When the water levels are this high, it’s all about the winds. We had some big northerly winds last week that resulted in additional erosion on West Lakeshore Drive. We’ll have it fixed right away, but our plans to get a grant and shore up that area and create a walkway are still a couple of years out, probably in 2023 or 2024.”

The Lake Erie water levels have been breaking records for a couple of years, and they’re still about 2 feet above its long-term average.

All of the Great Lakes are still much higher than their long-term averages. Lake Ontario is near average after summers marked by heavy flooding.

The reason Lake Erie water levels have been on the decline lately has to do with the weather. The Great Lakes Basin experienced four months of below average snow and rain. An ice jam on the St. Clair River helped back up the flow to Lake Erie, as well.

“Drier conditions this winter aided in seasonal declines on all the lakes,” said Detroit District Watershed Hydrology Branch Chief Chris Warren. However, as water levels begin their seasonal rise there is still potential for coastal impacts since water levels remain high.”

Lake Erie levels are forecast to seasonally rise again in late June and early July.

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