Lake Macatawa

One of the best parts of summering in Macatawa is that it has one of, if not largest, low bluff and beautiful beach in the area.  This soft sand beach located along the beautiful shores of Lake Michigan is shared by around 200 cottagers and there is space abound for everyone.  Once a family has vacationed in Macatawa they find it so enchanting that they themselves begin returning yearly, and often purchasing a piece of this treasure to pass on the memories created to their children and grandchildren.

Lake Michigan

Quick Take – Lake Michigan is down 3 feet from the record high water levels of 2020. This is a sigh of relief to those of us who have experienced beach erosion in 1986, and more recently in 2020.  With lower levels comes annual dredging of Holland Harbor, and beach restoration on the south side of Holland Harbor, primarily renourishing a large beach up to one mile south of the jetty.  With current weather trends and hydrological models, there is no indication of rising water levels at this time.  If anything, the water levels will remain stable or lower over the next year.

Beach Predictions

Lake Michigan water levels follow a seasonal cycle where during the fall and early winter, the lakes generally decline due to an increase in evaporation as temperatures decline and cold air moves over the relatively warm lake waters. In the spring and early summer, water levels typically rise due to increased precipitation and enhanced runoff from snowmelt. We refer to the combined effect of precipitation over the lake, evaporation from the lake, and runoff to the lake as Net Basin Supply (NBS). The Great Lakes are not in just a normal water decline mode. They are now going down faster than usual and putting some distance between current water levels and the record water levels of 2020.

The agreement with the USACE forces sand dredged from Holland Harbor to be deposited south of the jetty most years, because the harbor cuts off the natural nearshore current from north to south and deprives the south side the sediment supply it would receive under normal conditions.

In conclusion, Lake Michigan beaches in and around the Holland area will be large and healthy for the foreseeable future, unless we see dramatic precipitation and weather patterns that are persistent and continue for years. 

Written by: Ginger Wardwell



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