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  • Great Lakes water levels lower than 2020 heading into spring rise

    DETROIT- Great Lake water levels in 2021 are tracking below last year’s levels, though Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie remain well above long-term average levels, according to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials who track and forecast Great Lakes water levels. Lake Ontario recently fell slightly below long-term average levels. The February 2021 monthly mean water levels ranged from 7 to 23 inches below levels from this time last year. Since November 2020, the Great Lakes basin experienced four consecutive months of below average precipitation. This combined with a cold air outbreak during February led to increased evaporation across the lakes and caused a St. Clair River ice jam to develop. When ice jams occur, water levels downstream of the restriction decline, while water levels upstream of the restriction rise.
  • Soo Locks closing for seasonal repair, maintenance

    DETROIT- The Soo Locks in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan will close to marine traffic beginning 11:59 p.m. January 15 through 12:01 a.m. March 25 to perform critical maintenance. The operating season is fixed by federal regulation and is driven in part by the feasibility of vessels operating in typical ice conditions. Every year, the Corps uses the winter period to perform maintenance to keep the Soo Locks operating. The Soo Area Office team works long hours in extreme conditions to complete a significant amount of maintenance during this annual closure period. The work they perform is unique, especially given the harsh northern Michigan conditions they work in.
  • High water levels and wave events increase safety hazards

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers urges caution around Great Lake piers, breakwaters and jetties, particularly during times of high wind and wave events. Many accidents and incidents near harbor structures occur during the turbulent weather season late in the year and higher than normal water levels pose an added threat. The lakeshore attracts local residents and visitors alike and some may not be aware of the powerful impacts that strong winds, storms and high water levels can bring. Dangers of High Water Levels, Waves. The Great Lakes are experiencing higher than normal water levels, which bring safety hazards such as submerged breakwaters, dangerous rip currents and electric shock risks.
  • Corps of Engineers report Great Lakes water levels remain high as fall storms approach

    U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials report despite seasonal declines, Great Lakes water levels remain high as fall storms approach. “The Corps of Engineers urges anyone impacted by high water levels last fall to prepare for similar or worse impacts in the coming months,” Detroit District Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office Chief, John Allis said. The Corps’ Detroit District is responsible for monitoring, forecasting, collecting and disseminating Great Lakes water level information. For the most up-to-date Great Lakes water level information visit the district’s website at www.lre.usace.army.mil/Missions/Great-Lakes-Information.
  • Detroit District awards contract for maintenance at Soo Locks

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces a contract award to replace aging equipment on the MacArthur Lock in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. The more than $7 million contract was awarded to Ryba Marine Construction Co. The contract (award number W911XK20C0020) was for $ $7,276,650.00 to replace the World War II-era tainter valves for the MacArthur Lock. Tainter valves are used to control the flow of water used for raising and lowering the water level in the lock during a lockage. The MacArthur Lock has two sets of tainter valves, one upstream set and one downstream set. “The Corps takes pride in performing maintenance to keep its existing facilities operational for long durations, while simultaneously planning for replacement and renewal as required to ensure the locks remain a resilient link in the Great Lakes Navigation System,” said Kevin Sprague, area engineer, Soo Area Office.
  • Great Lakes water levels reaching peaks for the year

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces each of the Great Lakes, except Lake Superior, have likely reached their peak water levels for the year and are predicted to decline. Lakes Michigan-Huron set another new monthly mean record high water level in July, however the water level is expected to slowly drop the rest of the year. Water levels on Lakes St. Clair, Erie and Ontario all continued to decline last month, with no new records set on those lakes in July. The water level of Lake Superior is expected to peak next month before entering its period of typical seasonal decline. “While we expect water levels to decline across most of the Great Lakes, levels still remain extremely high,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office, Detroit District.
  • Great Lakes water levels still setting records

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces that Lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie set new monthly mean water level records for May 2020. These water level records were previously set in 1986 on Lakes Michigan and Huron and just last year in 2019 on Lakes St. Clair and Erie. As we enter the summer months, all of the lakes are either in their period of seasonal rise or are reaching their peak, except Lake Ontario, which will likely begin its seasonal decline this month. Although most of the month was dry, the middle of May brought heavy rainfall to some areas of the basin, resulting in a wetter than average month for the Michigan-Huron and Erie basins. In the coming months, water levels are projected to continue to be near or above record high water levels on all of the lakes, except Lake Ontario. Significant erosion and flooding continues in many locations as water levels remain extremely high. “The water level of Lakes Michigan and Huron has now risen above the peak level that was reached last year,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office, Detroit District.
  • Shutterbugs invited to submit photos from Great Lakes sites

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, invites the public to participate in their annual photo contest. Entries are now being accepted through 11:59 p.m. June 7 and should feature Great Lakes’ sites such as the Soo Locks, Duluth Ship Canal, piers, breakwaters or federal harbors on the Great Lakes. The top 12 photographers will have their photo included in a 2021 downloadable calendar and the top three photographers, determined by social media vote, will receive a plaque with their winning photo, provided by the Soo Locks Visitors Center Association.
  • Record water levels set, watching spring

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces that Lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie set new monthly mean water level records for April 2020, which were previously set in 1985 or 1986. All of the lakes are either in their period of seasonal rise or are reaching their peak, as we continue into the late spring and summer. Although the end of April brought heavy rainfall to some areas of the basin, the month as a whole was quite dry for the Great Lakes region. During the spring, water levels typically rise on the Great Lakes due to increased rainfall and runoff. In the coming months, water levels are projected to continue to be near or above record high water levels on all of the lakes, except Lake Ontario. Significant erosion and flooding continues in many locations as water levels remain extremely high.
  • Water Levels to remain high during seasonal rise

    DETROIT- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Detroit District, announces that Lakes Michigan, Huron, St. Clair and Erie set new monthly mean water level records for March 2020, which were previously set in 1986. All of the lakes are now in their period of seasonal rise and will continue to rise toward their peaks, which are projected to occur in the late spring or summer. March was fairly wet in the Great Lakes region with precipitation near to above average across the region. During the spring, water levels on the Great Lakes are usually in a period of seasonal rise due to increased rainfall and runoff. Water levels are expected to rise toward their seasonal peaks over the coming months and will continue to be near or above record high water levels. Significant erosion continues in many locations as water levels remain extremely high. Strong storm systems and resulting large waves have led to substantial erosion along much of the Great Lakes coastline. “After a generally drier month of February, March brought a return to wetter conditions experienced across the Great Lakes basin,” said John Allis, chief of the Great Lakes Hydraulics and Hydrology Office, Detroit District. “During this period of seasonal rise for the Great Lakes, near or above record high water levels will continue to cause impacts along the shoreline.”