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The Great Lakes are the largest freshwater system on the Earth's surface, home to a fragile fishery, and delicate shoreline beaches and dunes. They are also central to northern Michigan tourism, economies and our way of life.

Lake Michigan drops 12" since July, still way above average

Lake Michigan is lower than it was at this point last year, but still 31 inches above its long-term average.
Dan Wanschura
/
Interlochen Public Radio
Lake Michigan is lower than it was at this point last year, but still 31 inches above its long-term average.

All five of the Great Lakes closed out 2020 at lower levels than they were a year ago. But according to new projections from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the upper lakes are still expected to remain high in 2021.

Since peaking in July, water levels in Lakes Michigan and Huron have dropped by about a foot. But those are still 31 inches above their long-term average.

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Meanwhile, Lake Superior is nine inches higher than normal after dipping seven inches since August, and Lake Erie is still 25 inches above its long-term average after declining 18 inches since June.

That means shoreline communities aren’t quite out of the woods yet.

“There is potential to see near, to above record-high water levels come Spring and early Summer,” says Deanna Apps, a scientist with the Army Corps in Detroit.

“We could potentially see record-high water levels if we see really wet conditions in these next couple months or over the six month forecast period.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects Lakes Michigan and Huron to drop another three inches before rising in March. Lake Superior is projected to decline by another seven inches before its seasonal rise also in March.