Lingering winter cold could be good for Great Lakes water levels

(WXYZ) - The lingering effects of the region's cold winter will probably end up being good for Great Lake levels.

That's one of the conclusions of a seasonal Lake Superior water temperature forecast just released. You can read the results of the research work, funded in part by the University of Michigan, here .

The colder than average water temperatures, expected to prevail through the summer in the central, deepest parts of the biggest of the Great Lakes, will make for less evaporation than in a typical summer. That could mean a Lake Superior water level several inches higher by next spring than we could otherwise expect. The lakes in general have been creeping higher with their water levels in the last couple of years, which makes shipping and recreation generally easier on all the lakes.

On the flip side, swimming away from shore on any of the Great Lakes, but especially Lake Superior, will be a more chilling experience than it's been in the past. As small amounts of ice linger on Lake Superior even in these first days of June, the water temperatures are expected to lag behind what's average all summer long. But small inland lakes and even the Great Lakes closer to shore shake off the effects of the winter much more quickly, so you won't notice much if any difference in those areas.

Will that translate into colder than normal air temperatures this summer for our entire region? Not necessarily. Larger forces, like a developing El Nino toward the end of summer, will probably play a bigger role in keeping our average temperatures for the June, July and August period a bit below what is typical. Here is the latest outlook for those three months form the Climate Prediction Center .

That El Nino could lead to increased cloudiness and precipitation toward the end of the summer period, nudging us a bit below typical temperatures late in the lazy days of summer. If the El Nino lasts into the winter, which is a good possibility, it could mean warmer than average temperatures for southeast Michigan over the winter months.

The First Alert Weather Team will continue to monitor the developing El Nino in the tropical Pacific and let you know how it could impact southeast Michigan's weather in the months ahead.

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