Lake Michigan’s high and low water levels

Dear Tom,
I know Lake Michigan is very high now, but wasn’t it very low several years ago? I remember you mentioning its low level then.
— Jim Petrucci
Dear Jim,
The level of Lake Michigan fluctuates gradually through the years, and right now it is approaching a historically high level. As of July 19, the Lake Michigan-Huron system stood at 581.96 feet above sea level. (Lakes Michigan and Huron are hydrologically one lake, connected by the Straits of Mackinac.)
In records dating from 1918, Lake Michigan’s all-time high level is 582.35 feet, recorded in October 1986 … and that is just 0.39 feet above its current level. The low level that you referred to occurred in 2013, when the lake was at 576.02 feet. That level is the lowest level of the Lake Michigan-Huron system since records began in 1918.

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