Lake Michigan running warmer than average while still experiencing record high water levels

MILWAUKEE — For second half of April and the start of May in 2020, most of the upper Midwest struggled to reach average high temperatures. But ever since May 21, southeast Wisconsin, in particular, has been at or slightly above average in terms of temperatures.

Our region’s warm-up has been reflected in Lake Michigan temperatures —  increasing above the 1992-2019 average by as much as 2˚C, according to National Weather Service data.

Lake Michigan average temperature compared to 2020 as of June 4

While 2˚C might not seem like much, it’s important to keep in mind the current state of Lake Michigan. We’re still experiencing record high water levels that have persisted for all of 2020. 2019 also flirted with record-high levels just about the entire year. All of 2020 so far, we’ve seen water over 2 feet higher than historical averages.

Compared to monthly averages, Lake Michigan water levels continue to increase as they reach their peak in July. We’re already seeing water levels higher than the record for that time of year. Erosion along the lakefront will be important to watch throughout the summer. Record rainfall totals for 2018 and 2019 for much of Wisconsin can be contributed to this increase.

So far in 2020, Milwaukee has received 2.92″ more rainfall than average since Jan. 1.

Lake Michigan water levels in terms of feet compared to sea level as of June 4

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