High lake levels exist after heavy winter snows

Apr 14, 2014

Somewhere out under the thousands of square miles of ice on the Great Lakes is water, much of it visible on the Buffalo Waterfront as it eventually flows under the ice boom. It will be a little higher this year for boating season.

Lake Erie ice and snow cover from winter 2013-14 in downtown Buffalo.
Credit WBFO News photo by Eileen Buckley

If there is a lot of snow and rain, the lakes will rise. For many area commuters, they can tell what the water levels are as they travel each day on the Niagara Section of the Thruway.  You can see the pipes which run between the Niagara River and the Black Rock Channel and see how high the water is in those pipes.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said the water will be a few inches higher once the ice melts and the water flows down from Lake Superior and into the Niagara River.

Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the Corps in Detroit, tells WBFO News Lake Erie will be a couple inches deeper this year, but not as high as the average, as will other lakes.

"There's certainly still some impacts Great Lakes-system wide going beyond Lake Erie. Lakes Michigan and Huron are expected to higher than last year but below their long-term average. So, there are still impacts of low water felt across other parts of the Great Lakes Basin," said Kompoltowicz.

Kompoltowicz said rain fall might make it even deeper, but that can't be predicted the way lake levels can be predicted from the ice and snow, and how much water will be produced from snow melt during the spring thaw.  

This was the coldest winter since 1993-94 season and that is keeping the snow and the ice solid.