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Lake Superior decline was more than usual in March

Lake Superior dropped 1/2 inch more than usual in March, a sign that a dry winter is causing the big lake to decline again after several months of upswing.

Lake Superior dropped ½ inch more than usual in March, a sign that a dry winter is causing the big lake to decline again after several months of upswing.

The lake dropped a full inch in March, a month it usually drops about .4 inches, the International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Wednesday.

The lake's level is expected to rise in April as it always does, but probably not as fast as usual.

While snowfall has been ample south of the region, snowfall remains below normal across much of the Lake Superior basin. Duluth, for example, is a foot below normal for snowfall this winter and has been very dry -- down 2.4 inches of rain equivalent from normal since Jan. 1.

Lake Superior sits 11 inches below its long-term average for the beginning of April but is still 6 inches above the level at this time last year. That extra 6 inches should make launching and docking boats easier for recreational boaters this year but won't do as much to alleviate draft problems for Great Lakes freighters in some port areas.

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The lake hit a record low for the month of August last year but has generally been rising away from record territory since then. This is the first larger than normal decline since then.

Despite a multitude of predictions, the lake won't break its all-time low level set in April, 1926. The lake's annual cycle will see it increase into autumn before it begins its annual decrease.

How fast and how much the lake level increases this year, and whether it will stay out of record-low territory, will depend on spring and summer rainfall.

The level of lakes Huron and Michigan are 20 inches below average for April 1 and 7 inches lower than April 2007.

Experts say long-term dry spells, more ice-free months and increased evaporation have helped keep Lake Superior low in recent years.

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