Lake levels going up Lake Huron has risen 10 inches in past 12 months
Written by Bay City Times   
Tuesday, 08 March 2005 11:16

Good for boaters, bad for propeller repairmen.? That's the forecast in a nutshell for Great Lakes water levels this summer, experts say.

Lake Huron is up 10 inches from this time last year, according to the latest forecast from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

"Three years ago, it was a really good year for prop repair," said Keith Anderson, owner of Anderson's Service Center Marine Division in Hampton Township.

"Last year wasn't nearly as good. This year won't be anywhere near as good."

The lake, measured together with Lake Michigan for forecasting purposes, is expected to be up by 8 to 10 inches this July, compared to the summer of 2004, said Phil C. Ross, acting chief for the Corps' hydrology branch in Detroit.

"As far as levels over the last five years, it definitely looks like it's going to be higher than it has been, which I think a lot of boaters will be happy about," Ross said.

In recent years, water level forecasters have been careful about saying that lake levels are on the upswing, signaling an end to near-record low water levels that have plagued the Great Lakes, causing barges to lighten their loads and marinas to dredge.

But Ross said he thinks the levels are edging back up, even though there's still a degree of uncertainty about the natural cycles of the lakes.

"It definitely seems like it's gone up for the last three years," he said.

"If the meltoff is good and spring rains are semi-heavy and at least above-average, then you're definitely going to see higher levels (this summer), but it's definitely going to be driven by the storm patterns this spring."

The latest forecast shows Michigan-Huron at 3 inches above the depth markings on navigational charts and 10 inches up from this time last year.

Anderson stores and repairs boats at his shop, located next to the Saginaw Bay Yacht Club.

"The water levels, even last year, didn't create an awful lot of problems, and I guess I foresee it being better," he said of the upcoming season.

A few years ago, Anderson's shop repaired a handful of boats with extensive damage to their shafts, props and struts.

He said it was so shallow in some parts of the Saginaw Bay that people were hitting submerged cars.

Anderson had to dredge a launch site outside his shop for two years in a row, but was able to skip the work last year due to rising water levels.

Lake Huron is still 10 inches below its long-term monthly average level for March, and 40 inches below the highest recorded monthly mean in 1986, but 20 inches above the lowest recorded monthly mean from 1964.

The lake is projected to rise another 3 inches by April 4, the Corps says.

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