Dramatic photos show Chicago's disappearing beaches

Why is Lake Michigan so high?

Larry Mowry Image
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Dramatic photos show Chicago's disappearing beaches
WATCH: Dramatic photos from Google Earth show just how much Chicago's beaches are shrinking.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- You've probably noticed smaller beaches as Lake Michigan waves remain at near record high levels. But satellite images from Google Earth really show just how much Chicago's beaches are shrinking.

And high waves, like those during recent winter storms, can add to ongoing erosion.

When Lake Michigan was at its all-time low in 2013, you can see how wide the beach was at North Avenue Beach, Oak Street Beach and Ohio Street Beach.

RELATED: Chicago's North Side braces for winter weather as lake levels rise

With Lake Michigan levels at a 30 year high, city officials are preparing to protect the shoreline as winter weather approaches.

Compare those to 2018, and even more so this year, where recent photos show much of the beaches underwater.

When lake levels are as high as they are now, lakeshore flooding becomes a major issue when we have strong northeast winds.

The last two high impact lakeshore flooding events happened back in 2014 and in 1987.

Below is some video of the 1987 lake shore flooding that shut down Lake Shore Drive and flooded some buildings in the Streeterville / Gold Coast neighborhoods.

WATCH: 1987 Eyewitness News report on lakeshore flooding

Watch an ABC7 Eyewitness News report from 1987, when high winds whipped up waves along Lake Michigan that flooded Lake Shore Drive.

Currently, the Lake Michigan water level is 581.5 feet, which is 16 inches higher than last November. That's only 10 inches away from the all-time high set back in 1986 and 5 feet 6 inches higher than the all-time low set back in 2013.

The forecast over the next month is for the lake to fall about 3 inches.

RELATED: Park district officials say Chicago's lakefront is slowly disappearing

Officials say land along the lakefront is slowly disappearing.