GREEN BAY - Looking around the bay of Green Bay, the signs are clear. The usual water depths visible on breakwalls. Docks that no longer float in water.
Water levels on the bay and the connected Lake Michigan are well below average, and have been for some time.
"We've seen well below average water levels for several months on Lake Michigan, and we're in a stretch of about 14 years of consecutive below average water level conditions," said Keith Kompoltowicz, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
But believe it or not, the levels have been worse.
Average depth on Lake Michigan reached an all-time low this past December and January. And although wetter than usual weather has helped, Lake Michigan is still running about two feet below average. That means boaters may need to take some additional care this boating season.
"They're just gonna have to use extra caution this year based on the water being even lower to know what hazards are out there. You clear something 2 feet under the water last year, might be close to the surface this year and you could end up hitting it without even seeing it. So slow down until you learn the area and just kind of keep an eye out for new hazards," said Chief Kyle Dupree, Green Bay Coast Guard Station.
And the low levels could also impact the Coast Guard.
"We're looking at shallow water so we might have to look at alternate locations for keeping out boats. It could increase our response times to people that need help. The Coast Guard is having to dredge some of their locations for keeping some of their boats as well."
Another historically hot, dry summer like 2012 would offset recent rains quickly. And that could leave some high and dry-- even if you're in a boat.
Short-term forecasts keep Lake Michigan and in turn Green Bay water levels well below average through the summer. But no longer are record low readings in jeopardy.
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