Lake Michigan and Lake Huron water levels have dropped every month for the last 10, to about 60 cm below last July's record levels. The lake system is still about 60 cm above its mean level, but at least we can see our beaches again:
The receding water has been welcomed by some beach towns and lakefront parks that weathered destruction in recent years. A group of Great Lakes officials estimated at least $500 million of damage in cities last year.
The shift doesn’t mean shoreline communities are in the clear. Many are still working to preserve what’s left of disappearing bluffs, repair crumbling paths or get ahead of the next rise.
Changes in water level are driven by precipitation, runoff and evaporation. Lake Michigan topped the long-term average in 2014 and last year set a string of monthly records, hovering near the 1986 record high. Highs and lows have come and gone throughout the historical record, and climate change may bring increasing variability between the swings. But it’s still too early to say if the lower trend will continue.
The Park District has also, finally, repaired the fences at Montrose Beach, to the delight of lake-loving dogs all over the city.