Chicago's disappearing beaches making a comeback as Lake Michigan levels fall

THEN & NOW: See how Chicago area beaches have changed in the last few months

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Friday, December 18, 2020
Photos show Chicago's disappearing beaches making a comeback
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THEN & NOW: Chicago's disappearing beaches are making a comeback as Lake Michigan water levels continue to drop.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Lake Michigan continues to remain at historically high levels, and that has had a major impact on Chicago beaches. The video above shows the dramatic change in the beaches from 2013, when the lake was at a record low point, to this year.

RELATED: Dramatic photos show Chicago's disappearing beaches

The good news is, lake levels have gone down a few inches the past few months. But with lake levels this high, strong storms can create huge waves which continue the erosion that has plagued the shoreline for the past several years.

RELATED: Great Lakes shorelines eroded, washed away after years of high water levels

Currently, the Lake Michigan water level is 581.2 feet, which is four inches lower than last December. That's only 14 inches away from the all-time high set back in 1986, and 5 feet 2 inches higher than the all-time low set back in 2013. Lake levels are expected to slowly decrease through the winter and are projected to fall two inches in the next 30 days.

Earlier this year, the lake level set records from January through August with the highest levels recorded in those respective months.

According to the Army Corps of Engineers, the forecast for January to May 2021 is calling for water levels to be 7 to 8 inches below the record high levels from 2020. Lake MichiganHuron levels are also projected to remain from 27 to 30 inches above long-term average levels over the next 6 months.

Below is a graph of Lake Michigan levels from Indiana Department of Natural Resources. You can see the big fluctuations in lake levels over an 80-year period.

You can also check out this interactive map to see how fluctuations in Lake Michigan water levels affect the coastline near you.

RELATED: 1987 Eyewitness News report on historic lakeshore flooding