January 2020 brought two things – high lake levels and warm temperatures.
Lake levels have been rising steadily since the start of 2020, gaining 7.8 inches this month (or about 1,343,342,158,659 gallons). The lake is now 2.5 feet higher than average and nearly a foot higher than this time last year.
Lake levels usually experience their highest increase from March to April, which means levels are likely to continue increasing— potentially to new record highs— for the next few months. Boaters may want to start studying lake charts as some of the structures normally visible along the shore may now be hidden by the high water.
As for ice, there’s none in sight off Cleveland’s coast and all of Lake Erie is nearly ice-free. That’s because, in addition to high water levels, lake temperatures are higher than normal.
The official water temperature for Cleveland is measured at our Garrett A. Morgan Treatment Plant. The temperatures recorded here have been slowly declining since the start of the month and now sits at 36°F. That temperature is 1°F warmer than average, 2.5°F warmer than it was last year, and a full 4°F warmer than it was in January 2018, when the lake had ice cover.
Typically, Lake Erie reaches its coldest temperatures of the winter in the February 3 – 6 date range, then starts its annual warming trend. But with no dramatically cold temperatures in the weather forecast, we may have bottomed out temperature-wise. (Sorry. No ice fishing this year – but you can make an unlimited supply of delicious ice cubes from the water we deliver to your tap.)
Data from Cleveland Water. Click on image for full size.
Data from Cleveland Water, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Click on image for full size.