Thereís a true golden hour in Harbor Springs on warm summer nights when the sky and lake reflect an inspired and humbling sort of magic. Itís the sort of moment folks wait all year to soak up, and for good reason. (Harbor Light photos by Mark Flemming)
The scary stretch of decreasing Lake Michigan water levels-- the lake reached historic lows early in 2013-- seems to be over for now, as a new report from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District's Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office said water levels in all the Great Lakes are expected to be both higher than average and higher than last year through the summer and into the early fall.
"Above average precipitation on the Great Lakes and very wet conditions in the months of April and May pushed levels higher than originally forecasted," noted Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of Watershed Hydrology at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District.
Due to wetter conditions the past six months, the water level forecast has changed; the latest update predicts higher forecasted water level peaks this summer.
The forecasted summer water levels on lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair and Erie will be at their highest levels since 1996-1998.
Based on initial data, Lake Ontario has already set a new record high monthly mean water level in May. At 248.69 feet, May's level was the highest monthly mean for any month in the 1918-2016 period of record. The previous record high of 248.56 feet occurred in June 1952.
Near record high levels on Lake Ontario are expected to persist in June, before water levels begin their seasonal decline.
Lakes Michigan and Huron (which are connected at the Straits of Mackinac and are measured jointly) are currently just over one-foot shy of the historic recorded high from 1986, 581.79-feet.
For Irish Boat Shop president, Michael Esposito, this is welcome news.
"I love high water," he said with a laugh. "There's not much else to say, except that we much prefer the graphs trending up than down, like we were seeing several years ago."
While docks at the downtown Harbor Springs marina may require tweaking to meet current water levels, Esposito said there's really no local downside to the rise in the lake.
"Some folks may end up with a little less beach, but overall, these higher lake levels are definitely a good thing."
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, in coordination with partners in Environment and Climate Change Canada releases the official six month forecast for the Great Lakes. That forecast, called the Monthly Bulletin of Water Levels for the Great Lakes is done at the beginning of each month, with the latest edition covering the period from June to November.
To find more information about current Great Lakes current water level conditions check out: http://www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/Great-Lakes-Information/Great-Lakes-Water-Levels/Current-Conditions/