Lake Huron December level reaches all-time recorded low

LAKE HURON—Last winter’s lack of precipitation and this year’s dry, hot summer are combining to have a major effect on Lake Huron’s water levels.

On December 1, Lake Huron was one centimeter lower than the 1964 record low, and by Thursday, December 13, Lake Huron was 71 centimetres below the long-term average, 41 centimetres lower than the same time last year and all measurements are below chart datum.

“It’s not the happiest picture,” admits Chuck Southam, an Environment Canada water resources engineer. “This is the impact last winter is having.”

While it is normal for levels to fall this time of year, Mr. Southam called this year’s fall decline “bigger than average.”

“The net total supply to Lakes Huron and Michigan is at a record low—only 32 percent of average—which is no surprise considering the dry season,” he explained. “The only good news is that the level has been stable this month—it’s the same now as it was at the beginning of December.”

“Whether the December monthly mean will be a record low remains to be seen, but we are likely to see record lows,” Mr. Southam added. “Sudden changes in weather systems are not as likely on Lakes Huron and Michigan.”

What really matters, he said, is what happens in the spring, “but if we have another year like last year, it will keep pushing numbers lower.”

He notes that all of his estimates, which have been “bang on” so far, are based on historical sequences. “People need to know that lakes do fluctuate up and down.”

Mr. Southam also noted that if Lake Erie levels are high, this helps slow down the outflow from Lake Huron too, which is helpful, at least if only a little bit.

The water resources engineer asked that people watch water levels by visiting the Environment Canada website, To see first hand the affect low water levels have had on Manitoulin, visit The Expositor’s Facebook page and click on the low water levels photo album.

Alicia McCutcheon