How does Lake Michigan’s high-water levels impact Chicago’s winter weather?

Dear Tom,
How does Lake Michigan’s high-water levels impact Chicago’s winter weather?
Jordan Levin, Wauconda
Dear Jordan,
The effects should be substantial. As the winter-storm season gets underway, Lake Michigan water levels are near record highs, approaching record levels in 1986-87 and 1997. In those years, strong north and northeast winds generated by storms brought severe lakefront flooding and beach erosion, the worst in the city’s history with more than $7 million in damage. On Feb. 8, 1987, north winds gusting as high as 70 mph produced 20-foot waves that sent water surging across Lake Shore Drive, flooding shoreline high-rise buildings. Sheridan Road became a veritable river; the flowing water moving concrete highway dividers as if they were bowling pins.

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