Great Lakes
Image of the Sept. 23, 2017, algal bloom in Lake Erie. NOAA / derived from Copernicus Sentinel-3a data from EUMETSAT

OH - Moderate summer harmful algal bloom predicted for western Lake Erie

Drier spring leads to smaller nutrient load than last year’s

NOAA and its research partners are forecasting that western Lake Erie will experience a moderate harmful algal bloom this summer. This year’s bloom is expected to measure 4.5 on the severity index – among the smaller blooms since 2011 – but could possibly range between 4 and 5.5, compared to 7.3 last year. An index above 5 indicates the more severe blooms.

Lake Erie blooms consist of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, capable of producing the liver toxin microcystin, which poses a risk to human and wildlife health. Such blooms may result in higher costs for cities and local governments that need to treat drinking water; prevent people from enjoying fishing, swimming, boating and visiting the shoreline; and harm the region’s vital summer economy. These effects will vary in location and severity due to winds that may concentrate or dissipate the bloom.

“A smaller bloom forecast for Lake Erie and the surrounding coastal communities is encouraging, but we cannot be complacent,” said Nicole LeBoeuf, acting director of NOAA’s National Ocean Service.

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