Looking back at the Lake Huron water levels recorded in 2014, it was an amazing year.
For the first time in more than 15 years, the lake rose higher than the long-term average (LTA). It surpassed the LTA last September and remained there for the rest of the year.
As of January 2015, the high water mark remains virtually the same as it was last September, placing it 8.4 inches above the LTA and more than 21 inches above the level of last year at this time. The reason, of course, was the increase in precipitation during the last eight months of 2014.
Can we expect this high water level to remain? Not likely. So far this winter, the precipitation (snow) has remained much less than last year. And the ice cover on Lake Huron is much less than last winter. As of February 1, only 28 percent of the lake was iced over. With most of it open water, the evaporation has been much greater than last winter.
So much for high water. What we look forward to is an early end to winter. Forget all the blarney around ground hog predictions. With the wild swings in the polar jet stream, it’s anybody’s guess when we’ll see definite signs of spring in the Great Lakes region. Until then, we’ll give you a few facts about Lake Huron that may have been buried in those old geography books.
While Lake Superior is recognized as the largest of the Great Lakes, it actually takes second place to Lake Huron in a couple of respects. First, Huron has a total shoreline length of 3,830 miles, compared to Lake Superior’s 2,730 miles. The big difference is shoreline around Georgian Bay and that around Manitoulin Island at the top of the lake. And it may surprise you to find that Manitoulin Island is the largest fresh-water island in the world. Another little known fact: The Lake Huron basin actually covers 50,700 square miles, which is a tad more than Lake Superior’s 49,300 square miles.
When it comes to comparison of deep waters, Superior has the deepest spot, which goes down 1,333 feet; Lake Michigan is the second deepest, at 923 feet. Lake Ontario is the next deepest, with a spot 802 feet below the surface. This leaves Lake Huron in fourth place, with the deepest point 750 feet down. Lake Erie, of course, isn’t much deeper than my bath tub.
Rounding out our comparative figures, the Great Lakes are drained by the St. Lawrence River to the east and the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal to the west. But about 99 percent of the water flows east. The Chicago S&S Canal outflow is strictly controlled…at a paltry 1.7 percent of the outflow from Lake Huron into the St. Clair River. So we’re not draining the Great Lakes into the Mississippi River. And that’s a fact!