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The eNews
Douglas Lake Improvement Association
PO Box 472, Pellston, MI 49769
www.douglaslake.org             January 18, 2020

Keeping Watch
     Recently Douglas Lake resident Stuart Case emailed me with a note of concern about the high Lake level this winter. He described wading from his home on Northwood Shores to their family cottages on the island – responding to sump pump alarms at one cottage and checking on shoreline storage at another location that is increasingly at risk for flooding this spring.  In the latter case, he’ll be relocating some dock storage to higher ground.  In my own neighborhood on Silver Strand neighbors who had “ponds” of standing water between their homes and the lakefront in May/June of last year, already have similar ponds (now frozen) this year.
     Depending on many climate factors, these anecdotal observations may mean nothing serious for our traditional winter to summer thawing/melting/flooding conditions. But perhaps these are indicators to consider some cautionary steps in anticipation of unusually high water conditions on our properties.  If you are away from your lake property until summer months, you may want to ask someone to check regularly on your property particularly if you have sump pump(s) operating and/or dock or other items stored near the lake front which could be damaged if lake levels continue to rise or unusual low-land flooding occurs.
     Mark Paddock offered to work with Adam Schubel, Resident Biologist, at the U of M Biostation to share some historic data and his insights about lake levels, both on Douglas Lake and the broader Great Lakes high water levels, with an eye to better understanding our situation locally. We're grateful to Adam and the Biostation as valued partners and resources for DLIA. 
    As winter progresses, we’ll keep DLIA members informed about Lake levels, precipitation - both snow and rain – and the potential for concern.
Mary Ellen Sheridan 

 
Spring Flood Warning for Douglas Lake
     We’re in the midst of another winter on Douglas Lake, and local climate observer Mark Paddock visited my office again to express his concern about the high water level and the probability of spring flooding. Based on our observations and on those of other year-round Douglas Lake residents, we think it is appropriate to issue a warning of potential spring flood damage to low-lying properties near Douglas Lake.
   This January, Douglas Lake has maintained a level about 1.5 feet above the long-term January average and about an inch above the previous January record, which was 714.2 feet above sea level in 2015. At that time, the lake was actually declining from an annual maximum of 714.5 feet in November. This winter, as is more typical, the lake has steadily risen from a low of 712.9 feet in September and is expected to continue rising. On average, the lake level rises about a foot between January and April, which would bring it disturbingly close to flooding our boat well at UMBS for the first time ever. 
     These high water levels are not unique to Douglas Lake. The Army Corps of Engineers reports that all Great Lakes are currently at levels well above long-term January averages, and Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are above previous January records. They project increasing lake levels through the spring and record high or near-record high water levels on the Great Lakes this summer. The USGS currently reports nearly all stream flows (and heights) in the state at levels above the 90th percentile. A few hours after I wrote that last sentence, I received an email from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy advising water discharge facilities to prepare for increased inflows and relevant infrastructure issues due to high Great Lakes and inland water levels.  
     NOAA and the National Weather Service attribute these high water levels to above normal precipitation in recent months and years (especially the past two years). At UMBS, we have recorded above average annual precipitation for the past twelve years. Annual precipitation at UMBS has increased over the past 40 years of continuous recording.
     There’s a lot of water in the system right now. The probability is good for record high water levels on Douglas Lake this spring. So, if the unusually high waters of the last two springs have damaged or come close to damaging your property, we advise precautionary measures.
Adam Schubel
Resident Biologist, UMBS
(Photo courtesy of Adam Schubel)    
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