Indiana Public Media
June 15, 2022
Climate change is fueling more extreme Lake Michigan Water levels, along with stronger winds and heavier storms. These conditions exacerbate erosion, beach loss, and damage along the shore. The region’s 200+ shoreline communities have already spent $878 million in the past two years repairing damages from extreme weather events, and estimates could reach over $2 billion in the next five years. Now is the time to prepare for the risks ahead.
Using elevation data prepared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s Office for Coastal Management, we identified twelve areas where high lake levels and strong storms could impact industrial facilities, contaminated sites, and communities along Lake Michigan. These maps visualize four flood levels from 584 to 589 feet above sea level. This analysis cannot encompass the full scope of hazards along the shore, but the maps provide a useful starting point for risk assessment, spreading awareness, and prioritizing cleanup.
Use the map below to see summaries of the 12 hotspots around Lake Michigan.
We need to rethink Lake Michigan’s shoreline infrastructure in light of increasingly extreme water levels. Adapting to climate change and dealing with public health threats will require significant federal, state, and local financial investments and policy shifts. Policymakers must work with and include additional recommendations from affected communities.