Lakes Erie, Superior hit record high levels - with more to come

Jun 5, 2019

Wet spring weather has pushed Lake Erie's water level to its highest point ever recorded.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said Tuesday the shallowest of the Great Lakes hit the milestone in May, surpassing the previous peak set in 1986.

Lake Superior also reached its highest known level for the month of May, although it has been even higher at other times of year. Lake Ontario set an all time high level over the weekend.

The Corps began measuring Great Lakes levels in 1918.

Chief watershed hydrologist Keith Kompoltowicz of the Corps district office in Detroit said precipitation in the region last month was 21 percent above normal. He said Lakes Huron and Michigan might also set records this summer.

The Corps said flooding and coastal erosion threats will continue along Great Lakes coasts, especially during storms.

Meteorologist David Thomas, out of the Buffalo office of the National Weather Service, told WBFO that the combination of weather and lake flows is the likely culprit for the record heights.

"It's too early to tell what percentage of the flow levels compared to how much rain has been falling and emptying into the Great Lakes," Thomas said. "It has been a very wet spring here, as well as upstream."

He said it is typical for the lakes to peak in early June.

"Heights for the water levels tend to go down in the summertime and we should start to see improvements on both Lake Erie and Lake Ontario this month of June," Thomas said.