Despite heavy snow, Lake Superior's level unchanged
Jul 3, 2002
Minneapolis Star and Tribune
MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) -- Despite record-breaking
snowfall in this area last winter and more than 7 inches
more precipitation than usual, Lake Superior is no
higher than it was last year.
According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake
Superior' s water level was at about 601.54 feet last
Thursday -- 3 inches above May' s level but the same
depth as June 2001.
That level is 5 inches below the long-term monthly average
Drought-like conditions in the region were blamed for
low water levels last summer, which prompted the dredging
of several harbors. But over the winter, snowfall
totaled 319.8 inches, almost double the seasonal average
of 172.2 inches.
Precipitation recorded at the National Weather Service
in Negaunee so far this year has totaled 24.2 inches --
7.54 inches above the normal 16.66 inches at this time
" We had just a little above average snowfall and
above average rainfall (in the Superior basin), but
we' re still playing catch up, " Army Corps
hydraulic engineer Carl Woodruff told the Mining Journal
for a story Tuesday.
Lakes Michigan and Huron are 10 inches higher than last
year and 5 inches higher than in May. They are still 10
inches below the long-term monthly average for June.
Lake Erie is 8 inches higher than last year, but
an inch below May. Erie is just an inch below the long-term
monthly average for June. Lake Ontario is 13 inches higher
than last year, and 2 inches higher than May. Ontario
is 11 inches above the long-term monthly average for June.
Woodruff said the lower lakes have been getting more
precipitation in their watersheds, boosting their
levels. While the Marquette County area offered greater
than normal precipitation, other parts of the Lake
Superior watershed did not provide as much.
" We really need to get washed out this summer to
get back to average, " Woodruff said.
Despite the higher lake levels downstream from Superior,
the Lake Superior Board of Control, which controls
the outflow through devices in the St. Marys River near
Sault Ste. Marie, has been increasing the amount of
water moving out of Superior.
Still, Woodruff said the outflow is below the level
called for in the Lake Superior regulation plan.
The plan calls for an outflow at Sault Ste. Marie of
2, 460 cubic meters per second. On Monday, the
board limited July outflow to 2, 230 cubic meters
" When we' re at low levels, we don'
t want to be draining the lake too quickly, "
Glen Nekvasil, spokesman for the Lake Carriers'
Association, said the higher lake levels are allowing
ships to carry more cargo.
" It' s still not what are vessels are capable
of, but the lake levels are improving, " Nekvasil
said. " We' re finding them a bit more hospitable."
Forecasters are expecting seasonal rises of Superior,
Huron and Michigan to continue for the next month,
with Superior rising 2 inches and Michigan and Huron rising
1 inch. Lakes Erie and Ontario are expected to drop 2
inches by the end of this month, The Mining Journal