Spring rain could impact algal bloom season

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TOLEDO (13abc Action News) - More rain is in the forecast, and spring rain can have a big impact on the growth of Lake Erie Algae. The lake is still 2-3 months away from the algal bloom season, but March through July have the biggest impact on how severe that algae will be during the summer. Rainfall so far this season has been around average, and the phosphorus levels are also around average at this time. If late spring and early summer brings dry conditions then a large algal bloom is unlikely. Last year’s record late June rains helped to produce a very large bloom instead. Tom Bridgeman is an associate professor of ecology at the University of Toledo. He said, “We were on track for an average bloom last year, but then we got those tremendous rains at the end of June and early July and that really just changed everything and we ended up with a very large algal bloom last year.” While the bloom size was near a record in 2015, the toxin level was not. Bridgeman said, “Last year we had a really large bloom but the toxicity was much lower it was probably less than half of the previous year.”

Research crews from across the state will place seasonal buoys in Lake Erie starting late week. The instruments measure weather conditions, water temperature, and algae development. NOAA releases a weekly algal bloom forecast during the summer. They will start issuing seasonal outlooks for the algal bloom season starting in 2 weeks. The forecasts are based on the total amount of phosphorus and other nutrients that are entering the lake.

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