Lake Superior hits mark not reached in seven years

The Detroit News

Lake Superior water levels in September dropped below their seasonal average for the first time since 2014, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps' monthly bulletin of the Great Lakes for October, which records monthly averages and predicts lake levels over the next six months, reports that the Lake Superior basin has received just 79% of normal precipitation over the past 12 months.

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After a wet summer in southeastern Michigan, all the Great Lakes experienced near normal precipitation in September but lower-than-normal precipitation for the past 12 months overall.

Kayakers paddle Lake Superior near Miner's Beach at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Munising, September 01, 2021.

That has brought the levels of all the Great Lakes down from all-time records set in 2019 and 2020, though Superior is the first to fall below its season average. Lake Superior, as the northernmost and largest of the lakes and which flows into the lower waterways, tends to be the first to show overall trends of the lakes.

"At the beginning of October, Lake Superior is (1.6 inches) below the long-term average water level (1918 – 2020) and (12.2 inches) below the level of a year ago," according to a new release from the International Lake Superior Board of Control. Lake Superior flows into Lake Huron through the St. Mary's River, home to the Soo Locks.

The six-month forecast shows Lake Superior trending just below its long-term average level, while Lakes Huron, Michigan, St. Clair, Erie and Ontario are expected to remain above historical averages.

All the lakes have begun their seasonal declines after peaking in mid-summer.

Lake levels impact shorelines, shipping and recreational boating on the lakes and are closely watched by mariners and homeowners. Erosion has taken an extensive toll on roads and shoreline homes during recent high-water years.

In this Dec. 4, 2019 file photo, erosion reaches a house along Lake Michigan's southwestern shoreline in Stevensville, Mich.