Officials: Lake Ontario water levels to drop 4 inches in next month

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Native plants for bedrock shores, including these red cedars along Lake Ontario at Henderson, New York, must be able to survive harsh winds and winter ice, and be able to root in very shallow soils. Photo: Roy Widrig, New York Sea Grant

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — As fall weather begins to set in, water levels across the Great Lakes are continuing to drop.

In a weekly forecast, the Army Corps of Engineers released a water level update for all of the Great Lakes and their outflow channels. This detailed below-average water levels for most of the lakes and predictions for the next month.

Specifically, Lake Ontario is within a couple inches of its long-term August monthly average. However, is remains below its water level of a year ago. All of the Great Lakes are below their levels of a month ago.

According to the USACE, water levels are projected to fall over the next month, with August 27 estimates showing Lake Ontario to drop four inches. However, Lake Ontario’s outflow through the St. Lawrence River is projected to be above average throughout August.

Water levels decreases are expected on the rest of the Great lakes, which includes Lake Superior by one inch, Michigan-Huron by three inches, St. Clair by four inches and Lake Erie by five inches.

The chart below details water levels on the Great Lakes compared to previous data:

Lake OntarioErieSt. ClairMichigan-HuronSuperior
Difference from average water level for July 27, 2021-1 inch-3 inches-2 inches-1 inches-2 inches
Difference from average water for August 27, 2020-6 inches-4 inches-10 inches-16 inches-11 inches
Difference from long-term monthly average of August-2 inches+19 inches+20 inches+17 inches-1 inches
Projected net change in levels by September 27, 2021-4 inches-5 inches-4 inches-3 inches-1 inches
All data show in this summary are referenced to IGLD 1985. Values for specific days are based on 3-day daily average around specified date long-term average period of record, 1918-2020

The USACE also warned that water levels shown are still-water surface elevations over the entire lake surface. Water levels at specific locations may differ. Users of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River are urged to stay informed of current conditions before undertaking any activities that could be affected by changing water levels.

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