The water levels on parts of the Great Lakes have sunk to their lowest levels in recorded history.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) reported Tuesday that both Lake Michigan and Lake Huron were 29 inches lower than normal when last measured last month. This is the lowest level since they started keeping track in 1918.
The lakes reportedly fell some 17 inches since January 2012.
The other Great Lakes of Superior, Erie and Ontario were also found to be well below average.
The corps said the lakes could set additional records over the next few months.
"We're in an extreme situation," said Keith Kompoltowicz, watershed hydrology chief for the corps district office in Detroit.
The low waters are a result of more than a decade of below-normal rain and snowfall and higher temperatures that substantially increased evaporation rates of the Great Lakes.
The low water has caused heavy economic losses by forcing cargo ships to carry lighter loads, leaving boat docks high and dry, and damaging fish-spawning areas. And vegetation has sprung up in newly exposed shoreline, a turnoff for hotel customers who prefer sandy beaches.
Roger Gauthier, a retired staff hydrologist with the Army corps, said it could take years of consistent rain to return Lake Michigan and Lake Huron to normal.
The Climate Prediction Center in their current three-month outlook says normal to above normal precipitation is anticipated over the Great Lakes region through April, which could improve water levels.