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Great Lakes water temperatures: Still surprisingly cold

Jun 22, 2022 10:25AM ● By Editor
Lake Superior surface water temperatures on June 21, 2022 (source: NOAA-GLERL)

By Mark Torregrossa from • June 22, 2022

We have some hot weather and more to come. You might be tempted to swim in a Great Lake. You will be surprised there are only a few swimmable areas right now, based on surface water temperatures.

Here are the current surface water temperatures on each Great Lake.

Let’s start with Lake Michigan and Lake Huron. You can swim at the Saginaw Bay beaches, with water temperatures in the 70s and probably in the low-80s by late week. The southern Lake Michigan beaches on the Michigan side have warmed to near 70 degrees. Otherwise, shoreline water temperatures are still very cold at other Lake Michigan and Lake Huron beaches. Water temperatures are mostly in the 50s.


Lake Michigan and Lake Huron surface water temperatures on June 21, 2022 (source: NOAA-GLERL)

Lake Erie, due to its shallow nature, is warming up nicely. Michigan and Ohio beaches have warmed into the 70s. The hot weather over the next few days will boost some beach temperatures to near 80 degrees.


Lake Erie surface water temperatures on June 21, 2022 (source: NOAA-GLERL)

The water temperatures are slightly colder than the long-term average on Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.


Lake Michigan and Lake Huron average water temperature (red line) versus the long-term average water temperature (blue line). (source: NOAA Coastwatch)

The hot days will warm the lakes some, but we also have much cooler weather on the way next week. In all it looks like a rather slow warm-up of Great Lakes waters. You’ll have to look at the map from to pick the right beach to swim at on any given day. Beach water temperatures can change dramatically from day to day due to wind direction and wind speed. Generally a wind blowing from water to the beach will be the warmest wind for a particular beach. The onshore wind blows the warmer surface water up to the beach. The opposite is true for an offshore wind, where the wind blows from the beach to the water. This pushes the warm water out into the lake and pulls up much colder water from the deep and brings it to the shoreline. This is why we often see water temperatures at Great Lakes beaches go from 70 degrees to 45 degrees in just one day.

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