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2024 Lake Erie Algal Bloom Forecast Revealed

NOAA Predicts Mildly Severe Algal Bloom This Year

By Farms.com

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its final forecast for the 2024 Lake Erie algal bloom. According to NOAA, the algal bloom is expected to have a severity index of 5 on a scale from 1 to 10.  

This forecast is based on various models that consider phosphorus loading into Lake Erie during the spring and early summer. 

Early spring's mainly wet weather caused water systems in the Western Lake Erie Basin to flow above normal levels in March and April. This has led NOAA to predict a "mildly severe" algal bloom for 2024. 

Jordan Hoewischer, director of water quality research with Ohio Farm Bureau, highlighted the importance of the timing of rains and nutrient applications.  

"It's important to note that more of the heavier spring rainfalls occurred well before nutrients were applied to farm fields for the 2024 growing season," said Hoewischer. He added that it would be interesting to observe the bloom during the summer to assess nutrient loading sources. 

Hoewischer emphasized the role of cover crops, a practice promoted through the H2Ohio program, in retaining nutrients and soil year-round.  

The Lake Erie Commission's latest reports indicate a consistent decline in dissolved reactive phosphorus loading into the Western Lake Erie Basin since 2015. 

"Achieving success in reducing nutrient loss over the past decade despite increasing heavy rainfall events is no small feat," Hoewischer noted.  

He praised Ohio agriculture's role in improving water quality but stressed the need for continued efforts. Farmers should consult local Soil & Water districts and explore H2Ohio options to protect soil and downstream water. 

The H2Ohio water quality initiative is expanding statewide, along with the Ohio Agriculture Conservation Initiative certification program. These efforts aim to help farmers adopt better nutrient management practices, promoting clean water across Ohio. 

NOAA will release the final algal bloom statistics for 2024 in September. This ongoing monitoring and support highlight the collective effort to improve water quality and manage nutrient loads effectively.


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