Rising Lake Michigan levels bring highs, lows to Chicago

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CHICAGO -- The lake level may give some observant folks pause; compare what we see today to four years ago, and the change is apparent.

Resident Cory Benedict and his dog Tin Man used to be able to run the beach at Foster, which is now just a small corner of sand tucked up against a mangled stretch of fence.

WGN chief meteorologist Tom Skilling has seen both extremes in his time. He says we’ve gone from record high levels in the mid 80s, to record low levels, through record low levels in the early part of the 2000s, and we’re back up again to being higher -- about three feet higher, in fact, in the past 28 months.

The reason, Skilling says, isn’t just summer rain, but also ice on the Great Lakes during recent cold winters.

The lack of winter evaporation translates into a lot more water.  Every inch Lake Michigan rises is equal to 380 billion gallons.

For lake areas dependent on tourism, especially up north, it’s a boon. For Chicago, it’s water cooler talk—for now.

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