The National Weather Service is warning lakeshore homeowners to start making preparations now to protect their property from a storm expected to hit on Wednesday.
NWS is predicting significant beach erosion and lakeshore flooding along most of the West Michigan shoreline.
"The worst conditions are expected from Whitehall south where wind gusts and waves may exceed 50 mph," NWS said, also saying waves may reach 10 feet. The churning waters of Lake Michigan could also dump debris on the shore.
The lakeshore flood watch is in effect from Wednesday morning through Wednesday evening. The flood watch means conditions are expected to develop into flooding on the lakeshore.
"This storm may be worse than any other storm so far this fall," the NWS said in its flood watch hazard message.
HIGH WATER LEVELS
So far this fall, the Lake Michigan shoreline has been battered by several strong fall storms. Coupling the high water levels with those storms has put homeowners in defensive mode: trying to protect their homes from quickly eroding dunes.
On Friday, one homeowner in Park Township demolished his cottage because it was teetering on the edge of an eroding dune. He made the decision to tear down the structure instead of letting it fall into Lake Michigan, which would leave significant debris in the water.
Other homeowners along the lakeshore are taking steps to protect their homes from the beach erosion. Sidney Jansma Jr. said his family has had a cottage on Lake Michigan for more than 70 years. In 1986, he moved the family cottage about 200 feet away from the shoreline, but he said the water has eroded about 100 feet of the banks since then.
Jansma's home is safe from an imminent threat of erosion, but he is still putting up a steel barrier in the sand to protect his land. There are big boulders in front of the wall and smaller stones behind it.
"The force of the water will come up and break on the boulders and the smaller waves will never get over the top," said Jansma. "But the big waves will top those boulders easily and it will come back. It'll wash back here and it will just gradually go back into the lake again."
Jansma said he had to get permits from the county, state and the Army Corps of Engineers for the project. He doesn't expect it to be completed until February.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says the Great Lakes levels are going to remain unusually high for the next six months. Typically the water levels drop in the fall, but a wet October interrupted that.
Hydrologist Keith Kompoltowicz says all five Great Lakes will be higher in January than they were at the beginning of the year. He says Huron and Michigan are likely to set records in February.
POSSIBLE POWER OUTAGES
Consumers Energy says they are anticipating that some homes may lose power because of the high winds on Wednesday. They say the worst case scenario would leave people without power for up to three days because high winds pose a danger to the crews repairing them.
In order to keep their workers safe, Consumers Energy is asking customers in advance to be patient.
"If the winds stay high for extended period of time, it may reduce the time we can stay up in the bucket truck," said Roger Morgenstern, a spokesperson for Consumers Energy. "Typically with a sustained wind of more than 35-40 miles per hour, it's not safe for us to be up in the bucket truck. Now there's other work we can do, but that may impact some of our initial restoration."
Some other advice, keep electronics charged, check on neighbors and only run generators outside.
Other stories about the lakeshore erosion from 13 ON YOUR SIDE:
- Homeowner demolishes cottage on the brink of falling into Lake Michigan
- Forecast calls for continued high water in Great Lakes
- Erosion carves away dunes and threatens homes on Lake Michigan
- Homeowners racing to protect lakeshore cottages from crashing waves
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