The Great Lakes Water Level Viewer of the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration puts Lake Superior at just less than one foot above the long-term average and exactly one foot less than the all time recorded high. All of us on or around the lake see signs of just how high the lake is, even if it is short of record levels. The tops of reefs which were visible a few years ago are now invisible, water and waves are right into the trees in some areas and shoreline erosion is visible in many locations.
People wonder why the lake is so high. Water has to come from somewhere and high lake levels reflect regional precipitation. Rain and snow not only fall on the lake, but on a vast array of sub-watersheds within the overall Lake Superior watershed. An interesting tool which has been added to the Infosuperior website is the Hydrometric Map and Data Viewer. This tool allows site visitors to view water levels in all major Canadian rivers flowing to Superior – in real time. The tool is provided by the Weather Office of Environment and Climate Change Canada.
The viewer provides a map including the North Shore of Lake Superior and clickable icons for rivers like the Kaministiquia, Wolf, Gravel, Whitesand, Steel, Magpie, Batchewana and Goulais, to name a few. By clicking the icon for a particular river, viewers are led to a page providing water levels and temperature information for that particular river. This page provides the GPS coordinates where the river water gauge is located, the gross drainage area of the watershd in question, the number of years the gauge has been in operation and a number of settings which can be modified to view temperature, water level and discharge. Settings can also be modified to view historical data for as long as the gauge has been in operation – sometimes in excess of 30 years. Pick a day, a week or a year and data for this period of time will be displayed. If you know the date of a specific storm event, it will be clearly reflected by the Hydrographic Data Viewer.
Superior’s sub-watersheds are obviously a major contributor to Lake Superior water levels and the Hydrometric Data Viewer is just one more way in which Infosuperior allows site visitors to view Lake Superior environmental data. Other data sources are all assembled on one Infosuperior page, easily accessible via the above link. A partial list includes:
- Weather and Climate in the Great Lakes Region
- Ontario Power Generation Water Levels
- Lake Superior In-Situ Data (buoys providing live data)
- Physical Characteristics of the Great Lakes
- Comprehensive Data including wind, waves, ice cover.