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Water levels declining on Lake Michigan

Published: Dec. 14, 2020 at 2:37 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - After soaring to record highs for much of the year, water levels on Lake Michigan are on the decline.

That’s certainly welcome news to property owners and communities along the lake and Bay of Green Bay.

When it comes to the amount of water in Lake Michigan, much of 2020 will go down in the record books.

“We set monthly mean water level records January through August, so each of those months, the first eight months of the calendar year, we set record high monthly mean water levels,” says Deanna Apps, a physical scientist with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

According Apps, based out of Detroit, water levels have dropped two inches over the past month, and are down four inches from this time last year.

It’s all part of a seasonal decline, which is why Apps has these words of caution regarding a lake that is still several feet above normal.

“Water levels are still well above average and they’re still very high and just given what we’ve seen happen in recent years in the spring where we’ve predominantly seen wetter conditions, it’s just too early to say. Hopefully the lake continues to decline at least a few more inches this winter to help bring water levels down lower before we start that seasonal rise,” says Apps.

In its six-month outlook, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is forecasting the lake to drop another four inches by spring.

And while the downward trend is likely welcome news for most, what happens in the spring could wash all that progress away.

“Fortunately Mother Nature is the big water level driver, so we’re really kind of at the mercy of weather conditions and what happens,” says Apps.

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