Heavy Storms Remove Drought Conditions, Restore Water Levels

Current Midwestern U.S. drought conditions as of July 6, 2021

Current Midwestern U.S. drought conditions as of July 6, 2021

At the end of May, we reported that moderate drought conditions and low water levels were making paddling on the Huron River challenging. The extreme precipitation that fell over Southeast Michigan and flooded Detroit at the end of June has removed the drought conditions in our watershed. Before the storms, the chance that drought conditions would turn around over a matter of days was extremely low. It’s a reminder of just how quickly weather conditions can change on the river and how climate change is making extreme weather increasingly volatile. Always make sure to check daily weather forecasts before you head out to paddle.

Most of southeast Michigan is now under normal hydrologic conditions. Water levels on the Huron River are generally within a normal range for this time of year. Some areas a still a bit low, while other areas, like Portage (Hell) Creek, are above normal. The river is now navigable through its entire length.

The heavy storms did, however, dislodge significant woody debris and sediment in a few locations. The stretch between Placeway in Island Lake State Recreation Area and Cedar Ridge in Huron Meadows Metropark is still very challenging to traverse. Be advised. We recommend only veteran paddlers willing and prepared to get their legs wet paddle this stretch.

The sudden rain has also brought humidity and moisture to a gazillion mosquitoes that were just waiting to emerge. That story’s the same across much of Michigan and it’s certainly true along the Huron. Protect bare skin or be prepared to paddle at a vigorous pace through sections of slow-moving water to avoid being feasted upon.