I was up at Presque Isle (Erie PA) today and the water level was a foot or more higher than I when I was up there in the summer last year. I kind of surprised as I did not think it would be subject to significant changes in water level.

How much can the height of the lake fluctuate over a year?

What time of the year is usually highest and lowest?

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    This is interesting. Some quick research (not enough to write an answer yet) on the Presque Isle section of the lake showed that they are having/expecting much higher than usual water levels this year. The same thing happened last year too, so even when you were there before it was higher than usual. May 26, 2018 at 23:58

1 Answer 1


According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The water levels of the Great Lakes fluctuate at different time scales to different forces. Very short-term water level changes, viewable in the interactive charts above, are caused by wind and storms. These short-term (hours to days) effects can be dramatic, and can cause the lake levels from one side of the lake to the other to vary by several meters for a short time. Each of the Great Lakes has an annual rise and fall cycle driven by the timing of precipitation, snow melt, and evaporation. In general, the lakes are at their lowest levels in the winter and highest levels in summer or fall. The range in annual rise is from 11 to 20 inches.

Great Lakes Water Level Observations

There is a chart here where you can seen some of the data for yourself.

Lake Erie also has short-term seiches, where the wind will push the water up on one side of the lake.

Lake Erie is particularly prone to wind-caused seiches because of its shallowness and its elongation on a northeast-southwest axis, which frequently matches the direction of prevailing winds and therefore maximises the fetch of those winds. These can lead to extreme seiches of up to 5 metres (16 ft) between the ends of the lake.

Lake seiches

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