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Stable water levels forecast for Great Lakes

DULUTH — U.S. government agencies coordinating the monitoring and control of Great Lakes water levels forecast Wednesday that the lakes will remain relatively stable over the next six months, with no movement back toward record-low water levels but not rising much above average.

The forecast for Lake Superior well into 2014 is expected to remain within 2 to 3 inches of the long-term average water level -- unless the winter is snowier than usual or if evaporation slows.

The lake-level forecast is based on long-term climate forecasts for winter and current river flows and water levels, officials said.

While lakes Superior, Michigan and Huron have been locked in an unprecedented 14-year streak with levels below the long-term average, they rose rapidly through most of 2013. Lake Superior rose nearly 20 inches over the past spring and summer when it usually rises about a foot, the experts said, noting the 2013 spring and summer season was unusually wet.

Great Lakes water levels are critical to the shipping industry and thus the industries that use the lakes such as iron ore, grain and coal. Some Great Lakes freighters in recent years have been forced to carry lighter-than-full loads because of low water levels.

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