What if the recent high waves on Lake Michigan occurred when water levels were at their highest?
— Aaron Polchow
With Lake Michigan’s water levels near an all-time low, the recent episode of 20-foot-plus waves provided little more than a spectacular show along with some beach erosion and minor shoreline flooding. It was quite a different story Feb. 8, 1987, when a severe storm hit during a period of record high lake levels. Lakeshore flooding and erosion, the most destructive in Chicago’s history, caused $7 million in damages. North winds 50 to 70 mph produced 18- to 20-foot waves. Water surged across Lake Shore Drive as waves battered and flooded high-rise buildings. Sheridan Road became a veritable river; the flowing water moving concrete highway dividers as if they were bowling pins.