News

Go jump in the lake, but cool off? Dicey

By Debora Van Brenk, The London Free Press

Lake Huron. (File photo)

Lake Huron. (File photo)

Sure, head to the beach to cool off. Just don’t expect it to be nature’s big refrigerator.

As the region endures another sweltering week, the Great Lakes also are sweating — with surface temperatures on Lake Erie, for example, touching an average 25 C.

That’s far warmer than in the chill summer of 2014.

“That was a long winter. Ice cover persisted and then it was a cool and more cloudy summer,” said George Leshkevich, a scientist with Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Near shore, beach water is testing as warm as 27 C, a few degrees cooler than the air temperature.

Refreshing, yes — cool, no.

Water temperatures bounce up or down each year but it takes a lot of solar energy to warm that much water, Leshkevich noted.

Numbers this year are similar to those of 2012, when lack of cloud and high heat pushed temperatures up almost to 1994 levels.

Temperature readings are made through satellite readings and a series of in-water buoys.

Unlike other years, though, the warmth has not fuelled algae blooms in Lake Erie.

A new report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says lack of rain has kept harmful phosphorus from leaching into rivers leading to the lakes. That in turn has kept algae in check.

dvanbrenk@postmedia.com

THE NUMBERS

Average surface temperature August

  2016 2014 2012
Lake Superior 18.4c 10.5c 19.9c
Lake Michigan 22.4c 17.3c 23.5c
Lake Huron 21.6c 17.9c 25.2c
Lake Erie 25.2c 21.9c 25.2c
Lake Ontario 23c 19.8c 24.1c