November 9, 2017
Two weeks after the Hicks-Hudson administration declared the 2017 western Lake Erie algae season over, the federal agency that actually monitors and tracks the season has concurred.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which uses NASA satellite imagery and field data to track conditions, continued to find scattered patches of the summer bloom —but not at any dangerous levels — after Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson declared algae season over in an Oct. 23 statement.
On Monday, NOAA announced its harmful algal bloom bulletin issued that morning for western Lake Erie would be its last until further notice because it’s no longer finding anything. Barring unforeseen weather conditions, those twice-weekly bulletins probably won’t resume until late spring or early summer 2018.
“As of today, Monday, November 6, twice weekly bulletins for Lake Erie will no longer be issued due to the absence of detectable microcystis concentrations. Twice weekly bulletins will resume as conditions warrant,” NOAA said. “The cyanobacteria bloom is no longer detectable in western Lake Erie. Microcystis is not visible in recent satellite imagery and toxins are no longer being produced.”
Microcystis is the dominant form of cyanobacteria — that is, harmful algal bloom — while microcystin is the chief toxin produced by it.
Western Lake Erie’s water temperature is now below 59 degrees, and it is expected to keep falling throughout the fall and winter. That, with increased wind strength and frequency mixing the water, means the chances of formation again this fall are unlikely, NOAA said. Algae normally needs water 68 degrees or warmer and with little or no wind for a bloom to form.
The Hicks-Hudson administration declared an end to the algae season on Oct. 23 after nine consecutive days of cooler temperatures and nine consecutive days of no microcystin being detected in raw lake water at the city’s intake crib.
The city continued to test raw water samples from the intake crib, three miles north of the Lake Erie shoreline, at least once a week.