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Lake Erie level will rise

Tom Jackson • Mar 7, 2014 at 9:40 AM

Lake Erie is expected to rise above last year’s lake levels this summer, but it will still be a bit below its average elevation.

And if you thought there was a lot of snow and ice this winter, well, you were right.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had a telephone press conference with reporters Wednesday to discuss the levels of the Great Lakes and explain how weather conditions will impact them.

Lake Erie’s average water level in February was 3 inches above last year’s level but 2 inches below its long-term average.

From March through June, the forecast says Lake Erie will be 2 inches to 6 inches above last year’s levels, but 3 to 4 inches below last year’s levels in July and August.

In the next six months, it’s likely to remain 2 inches below its long-term average.

With snow still on the ground, it’s estimated the Lake Erie basin has 1.8 inches of water in the snow, which will melt when the weather warms up again, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Detroit office.

A spell of warm weather in February got rid of much of that snow, he said.

George Leshkevich, a physical scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich., said the Great Lakes as of Tuesday were 91 percent covered with ice.

That’s the second-highest percentage since 1973, topped only by 94.7 percent coverage in 1979, he said.

Lake Erie was 95.8 percent covered with ice as of Tuesday. That’s high, but Leshkevich said in the past, he’s seen Lake Erie covered almost 100 percent by ice.

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