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Old August 7th, 2008, 09:27 AM   #1
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From the Freep...A little snow discussion - should make Immortal happy!

After a parched summer last year that left docks stranded and boat propellers scraping sandy shallows, the Great Lakes are blissfully -- and surprisingly -- full again this year.

Heavy snow and rains since last winter have made the lakes rise. Scientists aren't sure whether this will last, but they're hopeful. The temperatures, moisture and ice cover next winter will be critical.

"If we get two more good, normal winters with normal precipitation, then we'd have a turnaround," said Cynthia Sellinger, deputy director of the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Lake Superior, which beat its 1926 record low last fall, rebounded to within 4 inches of its long-term average in July. Lakes Erie and Ontario are 2 and 4 inches, respectively, above their July averages.

Lakes Michigan and Huron are up 8 inches, though still lagging more than a foot below their normal July levels. Lake St. Clair is up 10 inches from last year and down just 2 inches from its normal for July.

After three years of below-average precipitation, all the lakes had higher-than-normal precipitation during the past 12 months, Sellinger said. Last September, the Great Lakes region got double its normal rainfall for that month, lifting Lake Superior from its record lows.

By March, meteorologists across the region said the winter had brought record snowfall that was heavy and dense with water. Grand Rapids, Flint and Saginaw had their snowiest Februarys ever, and Wellston, near Manistee, set a new record for its winter season.

From December 2007 through February, the traditional winter months, for example, Grand Rapids got 98 inches of snow, 36 inches more than normal. Sault Ste. Marie also got 98 inches, 8 inches above its usual levels. Even Detroit got 59 inches of snow during those months -- 22 inches above average.

Near the lakes, the snow was not the fluffy, low-moisture kind sucked up from the lakes by cold, dry air and dumped back on the ground. Instead, the wet snow came from storms outside the basin, adding to the lakes' depths.

That was followed by heavy rains in spring and early summer across the region. In the past 12 months, each lake's basin got 2 to 7 inches more rain than the long-term average, in 1900-99. Basin-wide, the average was 4 inches more than normal for the past year through July.

Boaters and beachgoers are happy about higher lakes, but the problems aren't over. Ships on the Great Lakes that carry coal, iron ore and cement for industry moved slightly more cargo in June than they did a year ago, but they're still loading light because some harbors still are too shallow, according to the Lake Carriers' Association in Cleveland.

Despite 16 inches more water in Lake Superior last week compared with a year ago, the Wenonah ferry from Grand Portage, Minn., to Isle Royale National Park still is not running. Last summer was the first in 30 years the 149-passenger boat couldn't get to the island.

"We're still hoping to get into the water this season," said John Szczech, chief financial officer for the ferry.

The water still is too shallow at Grand Portage to ensure the ferry won't hit the bottom in a swell, he said, but he's hoping the boat can get out of the harbor this month on flat-water days.

The lakes normally rise May-October and fall November-April.

The Army Corps of Engineers forecasts that by December, Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron and St. Clair will remain on the dry side, 4 to 14 inches lower than their long-term averages, but the two lower lakes, Ontario and Erie, will be wetter and close to their longtime normal levels. Reported by: The Detroit Free Press
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Old August 7th, 2008, 11:07 AM   #2
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Wow. That is so fascinating. You are my hero. I bet you read a dictionary for the fun of it. In the future pm me for permission for referencing my name in anymore of your uber exciting posts. KTHXBY
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Old August 7th, 2008, 02:07 PM   #3
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Wow. That is so fascinating. You are my hero. I bet you read a dictionary for the fun of it. In the future pm me for permission for referencing my name in anymore of your uber exciting posts. KTHXBY
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