2 Great Lakes Hit Record Lows on Water Level

Lakes Huron and Michigan continue to drop
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 6, 2013 4:26 PM CST
2 Great Lakes Hit Record Lows on Water Level
Ice floats on the Lake Michigan during a cold day in downtown Chicago on Feb. 1.   (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Two of the Great Lakes have hit their lowest water levels ever recorded, the US Army Corps of Engineers said today, capping more than a decade of below-normal rain and snowfall and higher temperatures that boost evaporation. Measurements taken last month show Lake Huron and Lake Michigan have reached their lowest ebb since record-keeping began in 1918. The lakes were 29 inches below their long-term average and had declined 17 inches since January 2012.

The other Great Lakes—Superior, Erie and Ontario—were also well below average. "We're in an extreme situation," says a corps official. The low water has caused heavy economic losses by forcing cargo ships to carry lighter loads, leaving boat docks high and dry, and damaging fish-spawning areas. The corps might reconsider a long-debated proposal to place structures in a river to reduce the flow of water away from lakes Huron and Michigan, which are connected. (More Great Lakes stories.)

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