wsls logo

The Great Lakes are warmer than they’ve ever been in early November: Why that’s a problem in several ways

Each of the Great Lakes is at a record temperature for this time of year

A portion of Lake Superior at Whitefish Township in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Photo by Keith Dunlap (GMG)

Some parts of the Northern Great Lakes region were greeted by their first significant snowfall of the season earlier this week, but not even the arrival of the fluffy white stuff could mask these historic times for the Great Lakes themselves.

Each of the Great Lakes is warmer than it has been for this point in November, following a warm summer and above-average temperatures that lasted well into October.

According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, each of the Great Lakes is roughly 3 to 4 degrees warmer in water temperature than it has been in early November.

So, why would warmer water on the Great Lakes be an issue?

The Great Lakes being warmer than usual -- well, that has a domino effect, not only on the environment, but on various industries, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

The EPA said warmer surface temperatures lower the water levels, because evaporation rates increase.

And when water levels are lower, ships hauling precious goods and cargo are forced to reduce their tonnage, which can drive up shipping costs.

Water supplies and ecosystems can also be disrupted.

Here’s a breakdown of the NOAA data for each of the Great Lakes.

Lake Superior

The biggest and coldest of the Great Lakes has a temperature of about 53 degrees, according to NOAA data, which is 3 degrees higher than the previous early November high of 50 degrees in 2016, and nearly 10 degrees higher than in 2018.

Lake Michigan

Running alongside Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin, Lake Michigan has a water temperature of 57 degrees, according to NOAA data, which is roughly 3 degrees higher than in 2016 and 9 degrees warmer than in 2018.

Lake Huron

According to NOAA data, this body of water that runs along Michigan and Ontario has a temperature of 56 degrees, which is 3 degrees warmer than in 2016 and 10 degrees warmer than in 2018.

Lake Erie

The southernmost of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is checking in at a temperature near 60 degrees, roughly 3 degrees warmer than in 2016 and 10 degrees warmer than in 2018, according to NOAA data.

Lake Ontario

Nestled between Northern New York and Ontario, Lake Ontario has a temperature of 57 degrees, about 4 degrees warmer than in 2016 and 10 degrees warmer than in 2018, according to NOAA data.


About the Author:

Keith is a member of Graham Media Group's Digital Content Team, which produces content for all the company's news websites.