Special Report: Rising Waters, Rising Concerns – A Look Back

Since February, we’ve been bringing you monthly updates about the record high water levels of Lakes Michigan-Huron in our special series Rising Waters, Rising Concerns.


Our first part was how we go to such high levels since being at record low levels back in early 2013.  It all came together with 2019 being a very wet year- some areas received a foot of rain, above average.  All that water had to go somewhere and you saw it in the lakes.

In February, we visited a homeowner near Manistee who was very worried about his home.  The high water was eroding the beach and dunes so he’s doing what he can to protect it from falling into Lake Michigan.

Lake levels kept rising creating more and more problems for the region. We looked around the Traverse City area and surveyed the damage in March.

You may think the levels only impact those along the lakeshore but they don’t. They make a profound difference in our wetlands as part of the natural water cycle. The water brings nutrients to areas that are dry during low water level years.

The same thing happens to those living along the water. Some residents along the St. Marys River really felt the brunt at times this year. Their beaches or even yards turned became lakes when freighters floated by or a storm brought in high winds pushing in the water. We brought you that report in June.

In July, when hitting the lakes were in full swing and the water levels were peaking, there were some viewers who were dealing with their docks, either under-water or floating away. Dock builders were in high demand!

The good news in August was the water was starting to come down, but still set another record. There were plenty of problems around the Great Lakes. In fact, a historic cemetery near the Point Iroquois was threatened!

September was the first month of 2020 a new record wasn’t set for Lakes Michigan-Huron.  The dropping levels gave hope but the water had already done a lot of damage.  Those at the Point Betsie Lighthouse have been watching the water beat up the area. We looked into what they are doing now to keep the lighthouse in good shape for years to come.

Since the water is dropping our series is coming to an end. This doesn’t mean the water won’t cause problems. Levels will go back up in the spring due to the melting snow and spring storms. But the good news is, the current forecast keeps them below where we were this year!

Watch Part 1

Watch Part 2

Watch Part 3

Watch Part 4

Watch Part 5

Watch Part 6

Watch Part 7

Watch Part 8

Watch Part 9