Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Large Lake Erie Algae Bloom

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) on Lake Erie have developed in line with earlier forecasts of another large bloom this season.  Pictured below is the MODIS Visible Satellite view from July 27th that clearly pictures the harmful blue green algae that has developed in the western basin of Lake Erie through the island and up to Pelee point.
MODIS Visible Satellite -- July 27th

Current detectible microcystins have been measured near the Toledo water intake.  At current levels, this is NOT a threat to the treated city drinking water.  As a first step precaution, the city of Toledo has elevated the city's dashboard from "Clear" to "Watch" -- but still highlighting that the city's water is still safe to drink. 

The warmer and sunny weather has played a recent role in the development and expansion of the algae bloom on the lake.  Our current light easterly wind under high pressure today will keep the algae bloom nearly stationary with a slow surface current slightly offshore.  Typically an east wind is not a good sign, this would transport and direct the algae bloom closer to shore and toward the Toledo water intake.
Forecast Surface Winds this evening.  East winds 5-10 kts.
Our weather is set to change tomorrow afternoon as a cold front approaches.  The most important feature late tomorrow is a shift in the wind direction to a sustained westerly wind. 
Cold Front Approaches Wednesday Evening

A westerly wind would favor water surface currents shifting east, directing higher concentrations of algae and microcystins back into deeper lake waters and over toward the Lake Erie Islands.
Forecast and predicted winds Wednesday evening.  West winds 5-15 kts.

Forecast and predicted lake surface currents Wednesday evening.  Westerly movement of surface water.

No need for panic, again the city of Toledo states that the water is safe to drink.  Please rely on responsible information from WTOL and the city of Toledo and be prepared to take action if, or when told to do so.

~Meteorologist Chris Vickers