Weather Alerts 1 View »

Lake Michigan reaches historically low levels

Jon Byman

Lake Michigan. | Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Lake Michigan reaches historically low levels

CREATED Oct. 17, 2012

MILWAUKEE - Lake Michigan is as low as it's been in nearly five decades. 

"It's close to historic," Val Klump, the Associate Dean of Research at the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences, told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's Jon Byman.

The lake isn't as low as it has ever been, but Klump says that traditionally, the level goes down in winter, so the lake could set an all-time record.

The news for the future isn't positive.

"Most projections show lake levels going lower, not higher or staying where they are."
If we do cross the old low, which was set in the mid-60's, the lake would be as low as it has been during modern record keeping.  Those records go back to 1918.

The hot, dry summer of 2012 is one of the reasons, but Klump says the lake has been going down from its 1987 high.

"We trended, since the late 90's in particular, to be below the long-term average," explained Klump.

The low lake has wide-ranging effects, but one effect is that cargo ships cannot carry as big of a load.