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Great Lakes Article:

Melting snow brings up Great Lakes water levels
The Associated Press
04/05/04

The rush of snowmelt and rain filling up area rivers and streams is adding inches to Lake Michigan water levels, officials said.

The heavy, wet snow in January, February and March contained a larger proportion of water, compared with the fluffy, lake-effect snows of 2003.

Readings as of March 26 were 7 inches above last year's average levels for March, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But the lake remains 17 inches below its long-term monthly average.

The lake's level should rise an additional 4-5 inches in the next month, but it's not expected to get much higher than that. Officials predict that Lake Michigan's level will be up 5 inches this summer compared to 2003, when levels were close to uncharted record lows.

Snow-water equivalents this year are 40 percent above average, said Tim Calappi, a physical scientist with the Corps.

"It's certainly been a wet winter," he told the Daily News for a recent story. "There's a lot more runoff as compared to last year."

In May 2003, snow water equivalent levels were 50 to 75 percent of 2002 figures, according to James LaRosa, hydrology program manager with National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Weather Service in Marquette.

All of the Great Lakes are into their seasonal rise. Lake Michigan usually peaks in July, then drops substantially in the fall.

The Delta County Sheriff's Department operates a marine unit during the summer.

Undersheriff Ed Oswald said recreational boaters need to check water data before heading out, and to be alert for sandbars and other rough spots.

The lakes were at their maximum depths in 1986, based on data dating back to 1918.

For all-time lows, 1964 remains the record-grabber for Lake Michigan. Compared to March of that year, the lake is up 13 inches.

Researchers believe the lakes are simply at the low end of a repeating water level cycle. Lake level cycles run at a rate of about 30 years.

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