It’s official: Three of the five Great Lakes hit record levels in May and all five could set all-time records yet this summer.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers confirmed Tuesday that lakes Superior, Erie and Ontario set record-high water levels for the month of May. Lakes Huron and Michigan were a few inches under their May record.
A winter heavy snow followed by a spring of repeated rainstorms has pushed the lakes from just high to record levels. If wet conditions continue it’s possible Lake Superior could break it’s all-time record sometime later this summer.
Lake Superior was three inches above its former June 1 record level, set in 1986, 11 inches above the June 1 level of 2018 and 16 inches above the normal level at this time of year, according to the International Lake Superior Board of Control.
Precipitation in May was 21 percent higher than average over the Great Lakes basin as a whole, the Corps reported. That contributed to extremely high water supplies to the lakes. The new record May levels are 1-3 inches higher than the previous records for the month set in 1986.
“Our June forecast shows additional record highs likely this summer,” said Keith Kompoltowicz, the Corps’ chief of watershed hydrology for the Detroit District.
Officials say the Great Lakes region will continue to see the threat of coastal flooding and shoreline erosion, especially during storm events. Localized water levels are often impacted by winds and can be significantly higher during storms. Water levels and flow rates in the connecting channels of the Great Lakes are also high and may, depending on winds and other atmospheric conditions, lead to localized flooding.