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Will all the snow help Lake Michigan's water level?

6:12 PM, Jan 29, 2014   |    comments
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MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- All the snow and ice in the Midwest will eventually melt and that is expected to bring the Great Lakes' water levels up. But where the storms come from and how they form could determine how high the water will rise.

At the Annis Water Resources Institute, scientists like Alan Steinman are already thinking about summer and water levels on Lake Michigan. "From a scientific perspective this is an important time of the year," said Steinman. 

It's important because what happens in the next two months will impact water levels on Lake Michigan. Snow storms caused by lake effect are not as beneficial as storms that suck moisture from sources other than Lake Michigan.

"One of the questions we have to ask is how much of that snow is from lake effect and how much is from outside the basin?" said Steinman. "The lake effect snow is awash; that is from the lake and goes back into the lake. It could even be a net loss, some of it may move outside the basin. Storms from outside the basin, that is new precipitation."

This year there is plenty of ice covering the lake and that protects water from evaporation. So at this point in the winter, Steinman is leaning toward this prediction. "Going into the next summer we should have higher water levels than we had last year. If we can reach the long term mean, we are still a good 12 to 14 inches below the long term mean for Lake Michigan and Huron, so we have a ways to go."

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