It looks like winter just does not want to show up here in Evanston. We have had a couple of dustings of snow and a couple of days of really cold temperatures, but it really has not been much of a winter so far, and the forecast does not appear to show much change.
The way it is looking, this will be the second year in a row that a lot of the big ice fishing tournaments on area lakes may be cancelled because of thin or no ice. Because I do not ice-fish, this is not a problem for me, but the lack of ice is a problem for everyone.
Take Lake Michigan. Without the ice cap the lake’s evaporation rate goes unabated all winter long. Lake Michigan is already at historically low levels which will get lower before the spring rains and snow melt begin to put some water back into the lake basin. Last year we were 10 inches below average for precipitation, making 2012 the 10th driest year on record.
With the lake at 28 inches below its long-term average, a couple of problems arise: This will have a major impact on fish location this coming year and make launching boats at area boat ramps a real challenge. Also, while Lake Michigan is normally several feet above the Chicago River, currently it is only inches above the river and headed below the level.
If that occurs will the Chicago River reverse itself and again flow into the lake? According to the Army Corps of Engineers and Debra Shore of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District, no. They say the lake-side gates could be shut off and then the river level lowered via the Lockport Controlling Works. That process could eventually create problems for river navigation, but that would be a long way off.
The good news is the National Weather Service is predicting drought conditions to diminish for our area this year. So let’s get the shovels ready, we need some good snowfalls to help with the lakes. Until next time, keep a tight line.
Note: anyone interested can find daily Lake Michigan water levels at http://glerl.noaa.gov/data/now/wlevels/levels.html.
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