Thunder Bay·Audio

Lake Superior's high water levels setting monthly records, control board says

Recent monthly record water levels on Lake Superior are indicative of overall high water on the big lake but one expert says this year's seasonal rise on Superior may slow over the summer.

The big lake broke 30-plus-year-old average monthly records in May, June

Water levels on Lake Superior have broken average monthly records this year for May and June. (Matt Prokopchuk / CBC)
Lake Superior has been setting some records this year. In May and June, the big lake was, on average, the highest it's ever been in those two months. Readings this spring and early summer broke monthly records that date back to the 1980s. And early statistics from July haven't been seen since the 1940s. We hear more about it ... 6:03

Recent monthly record water levels on Lake Superior are indicative of overall high water on the big lake but one expert says this year's seasonal rise on Superior may slow over the summer.

The average water levels on the lake this May and June each broke records for those months that were set back in 1986, said Jacob Bruxer, Canada's regulation representative for the International Lake Superior Board of Control. He added that readings from early July this year haven't been seen since the 1940s.

"It's at record highs and it's been above record highs since the beginning of May," he said. "It's been a very wet several months."

Lake Superior has seen generally high water levels since about 2012, Bruxer said, which followed over a decade of lower-than-average levels. But overall precipitation this year has pushed those high levels into monthly record-breaking terrain.

While average monthly records are being re-written in 2019, the waters haven't yet reached Superior's overall highest point ever, he said, which was set in October 1985. The lake is still several centimetres below that mark.

While the seasonal highs on Lake Superior generally occur each fall, Bruxer said this year may still not be an overall record-breaker, with no guarantee that the autumn months this year will be significantly higher than they've been measured at in early summer.

"We've actually, especially in Thunder Bay in that area, to the west end of Lake Superior, we've seen a very dry period for the last month and a half," he said. "That's actually held the rate of rise — the way it was rising in May, I think it would have felt safe to say that [predicting a new record this year] — it was rising very quickly at the beginning of May."

"It's actually starting to kind of level out here over the last several weeks."