Great Lakes Experience Record Floods

It’s been raining here in the Great Lakes. A lot. And cities like Grand Rapids and East Lansing, MI , Chicago, IL, and Toledo, OH are bearing the brunt. Rivers – the veins and arteries of cities in the Great Lakes – are setting record levels and flushing water onto nearby human and wildlife communities. What’s more, weather forecasts call for additional heavy rain this week.

Since 1958 days with heavy precipitation have increased over the region by 31 percent. Climate models predict this trend to continue in the Great Lakes, with wild swings between heavy rain events and intensely dry conditions.

As the climate changes we can expect more river events like these:

Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grand Raggidy Rink Floods, April 2013. Credit: Tim Bileth
Grand River Flooding April 20, 2013. Credit: Rachel Kramer\Flickr
The Grand River crested 5 feet above flood level to set a record of 17.8 feet. The previous record was 17.75 set in 1948. Farther downstream, the Grand River was 3.8 feet over flood stage.

Mayor George Heartwell declared a state of emergency as more flooding is expected. The water is predicted to crest at 22 feet.

Even the Grand Raggidy Roller Girls are going to have to find a temporary place to bout, or will need to put on flippers instead of skates. Their facility is now underwater.

East Lansing, Michigan

The Michigan State University Fight Song begins like this:

On the banks of the Red Cedar,
There’s a school that’s known to all; …

Right now, the banks of the Red Cedar and parts of Michigan State campus are underwater. The river crested at 7.9 feet Monday morning, above the 7-foot flood stage. Relating even more to the Fight Song – it is the athletic fields left waterlogged.

Chicago, Illinois

The Des Plaines River was twice its flood stage on Sunday.  According to readings by the National Weather Service the river crested at 9.98 feet. The Des Plaines River is amongst these other rising rivers: Fox River, Rock River, DuPage River, the north branch of the Chicago River, and Salt Creek.

Jonathon Monken, director of the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, said

Based on the forecasting right now, we expect to meet and exceed flood levels—historic flood levels … So record flood stages are absolutely possible.

Flooding also required closure of several local forest preserves to the public. The Brookfield Zoo closed its gates for only the third time in its history.

Flooding in Chicago. Credit: Jerry Pos\Flickr

Toledo, Ohio

Northwestern Ohio is experiencing a very wet April. Over the past weekend more than 2″ of rain fell in many parts of far northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan in a 48 hour period. The Maumee River is about a foot above flood stage at Defiance, and it is nearing its crest.

Spring Flood Risk Forecast

NOAA released a springtime flood risk map for the Great Lakes and the United States.

U.S. Spring Flood Risk, 2013. Credit: NOAA

Want to know more about the impact heavy rain and flooding has on Great Lakes wildlife and what to do about it?

Learn more in this detailed report: Taken by Storm!