U.S. Drought Monitor


May 19, 2011 // 0 Comments

Water, Water (Almost) Everywhere by CRAIG JAMES Can you believe Lake Michigan has nearly three trillion more gallons of water in it than at this time last month? With the wet spring we have had, the lake has risen seven inches since mid April, which translates to 2.73 trillion gallons more water. According to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lake Michigan is still about two inches below last year at this time and 16 inches below the long-term average for May. Lake Michigan is an amazing 47 inches below the highest level of record set back in 1986, but it is 13 inches higher than the lowest level of record set in 1996. Lakes Erie and Ontario are above average for this time of year. In fact, Lake Ontario is up 18 inches from last year and is now six inches above its long-term average for May. Lake Michigan is expected to come up another three inches by mid June; Lake Superior may rise another four inches, while the eastern lakes should remain nearly unchanged. The total increase of water in the five Great Lakes in the last month is over 11 TRILLION gallons! Farther south, the Corps of Engineers is releasing water through spillways on the Mississippi River to prevent another flood the magnitude of the 1927 flood, which is the worst flood ever recorded for that river. The water is flowing at the rate of 1.5 million cubic feet per second through the river between Arkansas and Mississippi. Last Sunday, May 15, the Grand River in Grand Rapids was flowing at just 7.6 thousand cubic feet per second. An engineer has calculated that at the rate the Mississippi is flowing, the water could completely fill the Superdome in New Orleans in just 50 seconds. Opening the spillway will release enough water to submerge about 3,000 square miles of land under as much as 25 feet of water. This will take the pressure off the downstream levees protecting New Orleans, Baton Rouge and the numerous oil refineries and chemical plants along the lower reaches of the Mississippi. However, it could mean ruin to many of the farmers who grow crops in the flooded area. The government tells us there is little inflation. However, […]