Skip to content

Great Lakes see drop in water levels after record-setting years

Water levels remain above normal, but expected to remain below 2020 levels over the next six months
USED 10-09-2019-GoodMorningSaultJH03
Lake Superior is shown in this file photo from 2019. James Hopkin/SooToday

Dryer conditions are helping drive down water levels in the Great Lakes after two years of record-setting high water levels and eroding shorelines.

Although still above what's considered normal water levels, the lakes are expected to remain below 2020 levels for most of the year, according to the most recent forecast from the US Army Corps of Engineers. 

“We would expect Lake Superior to be anywhere from two to four inches beneath where levels were last summer,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office at US Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District. “For Michigan and Huron, we would expect levels to be about 14 to 17 inches beneath where they were last summer.” 

All of the Great Lakes experienced declines in water levels during the month of April when compared to recorded water levels for April 2020. 

Lake Ontario dropped 28 inches (71 centimetres), Lake Erie fell 17 inches (43.2 centimetres) and Lake Superior fell by 6 inches (15.2 centimetres). Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, which are connected and have the same water levels, both declined 14 inches (35.5 centimetres). 

Allis says that although it gets harder to forecast water levels beyond the six-month forecast issued by US Army Corps of Engineers, he speculates that some lakes could experience higher than normal water levels and shoreline erosion later on in the fall should there be any significant storm activity.