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Lake Michigan water levels may break a record in 2020, officials say

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave a presentation on lake levels in Grand Haven Tuesday.

GRAND HAVEN, Mich. - The high water levels on Lake Michigan that have impacted counties statewide could break a record in 2020, officials said Tuesday. 

Based on current conditions, the water levels on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron in 2020 will start higher than they did in 2019, said Keith Kompoltowicz, chief of watershed hydrology at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District. 

Ottawa County is one of six in Michigan that has received assistance from the USACE this summer to deal with water damages. Representatives from the organization gave a presentation Tuesday in Grand Haven, where officials expect damages will reach $500,000. 

"Across all of those counties, we've provided upwards of 200,000 sandbags and then multiple hours of technical assistance via site visits and phone calls," said Krystle Walker, an emergency management specialist with the USACE Detroit District.

The water levels have caused numerous cases of shoreline erosion, which have threatened homes and infrastructure. Weather patterns and storms have also caused coastal flooding. 

RELATED: Lake Michigan water levels hit all-time high in May

RELATED: High water damage surpasses $100,000 in Grand Haven, may double

The Great Lakes recently started their seasonal decline, just shy of a record set for water levels in 1986. That decline doesn't mean areas won't see an impact, Kompoltowicz said. 

"We're getting into the time of year where we see very strong storms rolling over the Great Lakes, so the impacts heading into the fall and early winter could still be very significant," he said. 

The current USACE Great Lakes water level forecast extends out to February 2020. Water levels could exceed the 1986 record depending on the winter, Kompoltowicz said. 

"If we see a ton of snowfall followed with another wet spring, then levels would tend to rise quickly again to start 2020," he said.


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