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Lake Superior's level falls off record-setting pace

Unexpectedly low precipitation has changed the outlook
Lake Superior Waves
When Superior's level is high, storms can cause shoreline damage (file)

THUNDER BAY — Mother Nature has taken action to ease concerns that Lake Superior this month might reach the highest level ever recorded.

It's good news for shoreline property owners concerned about erosion.

At the beginning of the year, Superior's level was 34 centimetres above average for that period, 20 centimetres m above a year earlier, and the second highest on record in 100 years.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' six-month forecast showed the potential for the lake to set a new record high before summer.

However, a lot has changed since then.

Rob Caldwell, the Canadian secretary for the International Lake Superior Board of Control, says the main factor is lower-than-normal precipitation in the Lake Superior basin. 

"In particular, the last three months have been dry...That's resulted in the water levels now coming down all the way from the (near) record highs previously seen," Caldwell told Tbnewswatch.

He said although Lake Superior remains above the long-term average level, it is now 9 centimetres below its level one year ago, and the likelihood of a dramatic reversal of the trend seems remote. 

"Even with average water supply conditions to Lake Superior, we do anticipate that it will stay above average, but will more closely approach the long-term average values on a month-by-month basis over at least the next six months."

The Canada-U.S. Board of Control expects to maintain a higher-than-normal outflow of water from Lake Superior through a control structure near Sault Ste. Marie during the month of June (a 14 per cent increase) and over the next several months. 

Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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