Additional snow could mean higher water levels for your spring, summer fun

It's hard to predict water levels on lakes and rivers until the ground thaws out
Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 8:04 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The potential for warmer weather isn’t looking very promising after additional snow has fallen across northcentral Wisconsin and it’s not expected to end anytime this weekend.

Concerns about water levels have started to become a topic of conversation. Seeing this much snow is not uncommon for this time of year, as December through March is usually the wettest seasonal period.

People may be wondering if the snow this winter could affect spring and summer. For those looking forward to getting out on the Wisconsin River this spring people should expect more predictable water levels. However, smaller lakes and rivers could see higher water levels than usual.

“Especially east of Stevens Point and east of Wausau, they’re on these ridges where the groundwater fluctuation can have quite an impact. We saw that 10 years ago when some of those lakes were really really low, and then just a few years ago we’ve seen them become very very high,” said UW-Stevens Point Extension Lakes Director Eric Olson.

There truly is no way to predict where the water levels in lakes and rivers will get to until the ground-level waters show up. Olson said people need to check out what is happening in The Great Lakes first to figure out what is happening in local lakes. Again though, with the change of weather, water levels can differ from each lake or river.

“These fluctuations, these changes in weather, means that the ordinary high water mark may not be where it was for the last hundred and twenty years and so that does create uncertainty because that particular piece on the shore is pretty important,” said Olson.

Olson added that this unpredictability could affect boating and swimming. Wausau has received 66.4 in. of snow this winter, about two inches above the snowfall average for the city.