Read the full story in the Chicago Tribune.
Nicole Gradford, bare feet in the sand at the 63rd Street Beach, gazed at the turquoise waters of Lake Michigan as waves rolled toward the shore, kissing the land and crashing into the stone embankment shielding the Lakefront Trail. The water, she noticed, has been creeping higher for months. The beach is smaller. A shoreline path south of the beach house near Jackson Park and South Lake Shore Drive is often flooded and impassable.
“With all of the rain we’ve had and the water levels so high, it’s taken its toll,” said Gradford, who frequently walks from her nearby home to the lakefront for reflection and relaxation.
Scientific data confirms what Gradford and other Chicagoans have been experiencing firsthand since before the coronavirus restrictions officially shut down the lakefront this spring: Water levels are about as high as they have been in a lifetime.
The lake is nearly 3 feet higher than usual for early summer and approaching the historical high, set in October 1986, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which maintains the official records for all of the Great Lakes.