'Significant' algae bloom expected for western Lake Erie


GIBRALTAR ISLAND, Ohio — Western Lake Erie will be impacted by another "significant" bloom of toxic microcystis algae this summer, but the magnitude of it is not expected to be as severe as the 2011 record algal bloom or even last summer's unusually large outbreak, according to a report being released this afternoon by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The algae also is expected to bunch up in certain shoreline areas instead of being spread out as evenly in past years, according to the NOAA forecast.

The areas of western Lake Erie that usually take the brunt of algal blooms include the Monroe area near the Detroit River, the Toledo area, the Port Clinton-Sandusky shoreline, and the Lake Erie islands.

NOAA's third-annual forecast has become a highly anticipated projection for scientists, policymakers, businessmen, water treatment plant operators, and tourism officials because it is the most highly advanced scientific model of its kind.

The forecast is produced by scientists at NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science in Silver Spring, Md. It includes 12 years of Lake Erie nutrient flow data generated by Heidelberg University's National Center for Water Quality Research, as well as satellite data from the European Space Agency's ENVISAT and NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites.

The full report is scheduled to be released during a 2 p.m. webinar, which is scheduled to last two hours and have dozens of participants.

Several area journalists, public officials and scientists are getting an advance briefing of the forecast this morning at Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory on Gibraltar Island, near Put-in-Bay.

— Tom Henry