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Lake Superior's November drop double usual

The lake is now 15 inches lower than it was one year ago.

The Aerial Lift Bridge looms over an unsettled Lake Superior in Duluth. The big lake's water level continued to drop fast in November 2021. Clint Austin / File / Duluth News Tribune

The level of Lake Superior dropped like a rock in November, thanks to record-low water supplies, the International Lake Superior Board of Control reported Friday.

The big lake declined more than twice its usual rate for November, dropping 5.7 inches compared to the average drop of 2 inches.

Lake Superior now sits 5.1 inches below average for Dec. 1 and a whopping 15 inches below the Dec. 1, 2020, level — thanks in large part to a continuing drought that has plagued much of the lake’s watershed. Duluth, for example, is 6.3 inches below normal for precipitation in 2021.

The drop in water level should help alleviate some shoreline erosion problems caused when high water combined with high winds to pummel shorelines. The decline marks the fourth-straight month Lake Superior has been below normal after a historic above-normal stretch that began in 2014 and didn’t end until August.

Meanwhile, lakes Michigan and Huron also saw far less precipitation than usual, dropping 5.1 inches compared to the average November drop of 2.1 inches. The lakes now sit 17.7 inches below their Dec. 1 level in 2020, but are still 13.4 inches above average.

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