To learn more about the level of the lake in comparison to other years, we turn to our guest blogger, Greg.
Gunflint Lake is not quite at an all-time high level. In the last 10 years, I have seen it higher twice: In the spring following the great winter of '95-'96, it was two inches higher. And the spring of '01 (after a winter of ample snowfall and torrential March downpours) topped it by a whopping six inches.
Likely, there were other higher springtime levels, but these would have been before I was paying close attention, or before I was born. And note that those two times already mentioned were both in the spring. That is when the lake is supposed to be high. But this is fall, and as far as I know, these levels are unprecedented.
In the fall of 1978, the lake came up quite a lot, and roads washed out all over Northeastern Minnesota. Back then, I wasn't in to marking the water levels on fixed objects, like certain rocks or our concrete boat ramp. But I am now, and I can say with the conviction of a scientist that Gunflint Lake is real full. In fact, it has risen 55.75 inches since December 2006, which was the lowest I've seen it.
To put that into perspective, if Gramma Peggy were alive today and standing on one of the rocks we take our measurements from, the water would be over her head. By contrast, last December, the bottoms of the feet of her bunny suit would've stayed dry.
Typically, Gunflint Lake will rise 24 to 30 inches between fall-low and spring-high. If that happens by next spring, it will create some real problems. Waves are already lapping at some cabins' footings during high winds. Beaches are underwater, so it is a struggle to find places to put boats. Come next spring, on a very rough day when the waves reach 12 to 18 inches from crest to trough, there will be serious erosion of the duff layer along the shore. Some trees will topple. The lake will be full of flotsam, redistributing debris according to the whims of the wind direction. And it will be a sight to see; a once-in-a-generation event, or perhaps even a lifetime.