Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
|Lake Michigan water levels have broken monthly records every month this year. Credit: National Weather Service (Photo: National Weather Service)|
The rain keeps coming and Lake Michigan keeps rising.
Each month this year, water levels on Wisconsin's eastern liquid border have reached a new monthly record and forecasts call for more high water records to fall this summer.
Torrential rains in mid-May swelled Lake Michigan an additional two-tenths of a foot. For the second largest of the Great Lakes, that's, well, a lot of water.
"We've just been very wet last fall and winter, whether it's rainfall or snowpack that melted and drained into Lake Michigan," said Marc Kavinsky, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Sullivan.
Lake Michigan has bounced back from record low levels in 2013. Now it's an abundance of water that is too much of a good thing in the form of shore erosion and waves created by strong winds damaging lakeshore homes and property.
Lake Michigan water levels typically peak in July before dropping through the fall and winter and then rising with snowmelt and spring rain. But this year, the lake has stayed at or above record levels since December, hitting new highs in January, February, March, April and May.
That means more water washing over breakwaters and piers, more boats needing bridges opened to pass underneath
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is projecting June and July will set new water level records for those months.
"There's a greater chance of heavier rainfall in summer with draining into Lake Michigan," Kavinsky said. "But the forecast (for rain) starts to tail off in August, September and October."
Lake Michigan's water level was around 582 feet by the end of May, almost 6 feet higher than historic lows in 2013, and almost 4 feet higher than average, according to records dating back more than a century.
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's School of Freshwater Sciences recently launched a buoy in Lake Michigan near Atwater Park in Milwaukee. The buoy records a variety of information including wind speed and direction, water and air temperatures and wave height and direction.