levels rise on lakes
Huron, Michigan are up 4 inches from Nov.rainfall; St. Clair
has been holding its own
By Gene Schabath
The Detroit News
HARRISON TOWNSHIP -- There are few boaters on the Great
Lakes this time of year, but there is good news for area
sailors from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
After six years of propeller-bending low water levels
in the Great Lakes and Lake St. Clair, boaters may finally
have smoother sailing next spring and summer.
Water levels in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan rose during
November, while Lakes St. Clair and Erie held their own,
and that could translate into an increase in water depths
next year for frustrated boaters, said Marie Strum, chief
of the watershed hydrology branch of the Army Corps.
Water levels historically drop during the fall, but unusually
high amounts of rainfall in November reversed that trend
and sent water levels up 4 inches in lakes Huron and Michigan
from October's readings. Some 4.54 inches of rain doused
the region. A normal rainfall in November in the Lake
Huron-Michigan watershed is 2.78 inches.
Lake Huron and Lake Michigan are regarded as one lake
by the Army Corps because they are joined by the Straits
Levels in Lake St. Clair were up 2 1/2 inches at one
point during the month because of the 4.06 inches of rain
that pelted the area during November -- 1.15 inches above
normal precipitation for the month.
Lake St. Clair's level ended up Nov. 30 where it started
Nov. 1, but that's still good news, Strum said.
"This is helpful in terms of water levels on Lake
St. Clair because they didn't have a decline," Strum
said. Lake St. Clair is the state's most heavily used
This could be the start of a long-term rise in water
levels after the six-year decline that left boaters high
and dry and scraping the bottom.
Richard Rittenhause, a Lake St. Clair boater, hopes the
low water cycle is over.
Rittenhause, who used to dredge canals and do other nautical
jobs for a living, had a difficult time moving his 26-foot-long
Trophy cruiser last month from his home in Harrison Township
to its winter berth in St. Clair Shores because of low
"There's a bay behind my house, and I had to literally
push the boat" to get it out into deeper water, Rittenhause
said. And once out in the lake, the water was so shallow
at Metropolitan Beach he had to sail out more than a mile
and a half to reach safe, navigable water.
"I hit bottom a mile and a half out," Rittenhause
said. "I was shocked."
Strum said whether the low water marks are a thing of
the past depends on two things this winter: heavy snows
in the Lake Superior and Lake Huron-Michigan watersheds
and a good covering of ice on the Great Lakes to prevent
"A month like this helps, but we need a number of
sustained months like this" to start on a high water
cycle, Strum said.
"It has taken a number of years to get this low
water period, and it will likely take a number of years
to climb out," she said. "This is a good start."