WXMI — If you’re looking at the beaches every day, you’re probably seeing more sand and generally larger beaches because of just how high the water got over the last couple of years.
“Higher than average water levels is still there, but we’re two feet below the record high water levels of 2020,” said Sean Whelan, Coast Guard Station Grand Haven.
Lake Michigan is about ten inches above the long-term average for this time of year, but that’s nothing compared to what it was two years ago with damaging water levels impacting buildings and infrastructure.
“And there were unfortunately instances of damage caused by erosion because the waves were breaking so high up on the shoreline,” said Whelan.
Keith Kompoltowicz, the Chief of Watershed Hydrology at the Corps of Engineers in Detroit says that threat isn’t as large now and there’s probably shallower water in harbors and marinas across the Great Lakes Basin, especially on Lake Michigan.
Rain, snow, runoff and evaporation are the primary factors impacting lake levels, which peaked in 2020.
“The periods of record high water levels that we recently came off of were driven by three to four to even five years of extremely wet and record wet weather across the Great Lakes,” said Kompoltowicz.
Erosion is always happening, but not on the same scale.
A wave break lower down the shoreline will keep homes and businesses safer for longer.
“And it looks for the most part that Lake Michigan will remain above average anywhere from maybe eight to ten inches or so over the next six months, but again, that’s two feet below where we were in 2020,” said Kompoltowicz.