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Major Severe Thunderstorm Event Today

A major severe weather and thunderstorm event is expected today across the Southern tier of the U.S. Tornadoes, very large hail and severe damaging wind gusts are likely across the Lower to Mid Mississippi Valley into the Mid South and South, especially from northeastern Louisiana into central Mississippi. A few of these tornadoes will be strong and intense this afternoon into the overnight hours. Read More >


Lake Michigan Infographic
Lake Michigan High Water Infographic



  • Lake Michigan water levels remain near the highest observed monthly levels (since at least 1918). The most recent period with similar lake levels was 1986-1987.
  • Elevated lake levels increase impacts along the shore during storm events. Even minor events on the lake may cause flooding of low-lying areas near the lake such as beaches, parks, and trails. Significant events (such as January 11, 2020) now have the potential to flood roadways and structures near the shore that are typically not at risk.
  • Lake levels are now high enough to impact more inland areas, such as protected harbors and overbank areas along some rivers.
  • Lake levels are tied to multiple factors such as precipitation, evaporation, and river flow. Lake Michigan water levels over the last decade have included both near record lows and near record highs.


Recent Observations


Chicago Calumet Harbor Indiana Harbor Portage


More water level information from


Flooding impacts along the immediate shore are typically closely tied to wave height. For more inland areas such as marinas, protected harbors, and the lower reaches of some rivers, the average lake level plus storm surge is important.



  Lake Levels


Past Water Levels and Precipitation


Documented Impacts


Juneway Beach    

Juneway Beach

Whiting, IN
Photos of Juneway Beach in Rogers Park, IL (Cook County, north side of Chicago) from David Seal on Oct 31, 2019


Whiting, IN     Whiting, IN     Whiting, IN
Photos of Whiting, IN from Jerry Robert Smith on Oct 31, 2019


Photo Photo Photo
Photos of Whiting, IN from Jerry Robert Smith on Nov 11, 2019
Photo Photo Photo
Webcam view of wave action during Nov 30, 2019 Lakefront Bike Path at Schiller looking South Nov 30, 2019 Lakefront Bike Path at Schiller looking North on Nov 30, 2019
Two right photos of Chicago, IL from Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications on Nov 30, 2019

Photo Photo
Chicago, IL on Jan 11. Photo courtesy of Matt Zuro. Near South Shore Drive in Chicago, IL on Jan 11. Photo courtesy of Bill Snyder. Whihala Beach in Whiting, IN. Photo courtesy of Deb Mann.
Photos from January 11, 2020.


Video 1 Video 2  
From Whiting Lakefront Park on November 11, 2019, courtesy of Jerry Robert Smith.


  Satellite Imagery

North Avenue Beach     North Avenue Beach     North Avenue Beach
North Avenue Beach


Oak Street Beach     Oak Street Beach     Oak Street Beach
Oak Street Beach


Ohio Street Beach     Ohio Street Beach     Ohio Street Beach
Ohio Street Beach


  Potential Inland Inundation

  • Lake Michigan Lake Level Viewer (NOAA Office for Coastal Management)
    CAUTION: These maps do not take into account hydrologic connectivity. This means that areas may be depicted as flooding that are not connected to Lake Michigan. These maps are mostly helpful for determining locations below the lake level at a given elevation.


More Lake Michigan water level impacts can be found in our past news stories


Factors Affecting Lake Levels

Great Lakes water levels are based upon a combination of multiple factors, including precipitation, evaporation, river flow into the lakes, river flow out of the lakes, and other diversions. The primary driver of water levels are precipitation, evaporation, and river flow into the lakes, also referred to as "net basin supply." The long term trend for both precipitation and evaporation has been upward over the last several decades.


More information about factors affecting lake levels is available from the US Army Corps of Engineers.


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