Lake Erie's 2016 Algae Bloom Forecast

2011 algae bloom in western Lake Erie (photo: NASA)

By Angelica Morrison

Scientists unveiled their algae forecast for Lake Erie Thursday -- and the outlook is good. 

Officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration expect a less severe algae bloom this year. They predict the bloom to be at a 5.5 on the severity index -- about half of what it was last year in the western basin of Lake Erie.  Last year harmful algae blooms covered 300 square miles. 

The blooms pose a health risk to humans and animals. They're caused by phosphorus runoff from farms and sewage overflows.

NOAA's Rick Stumpf says the Maumee River has been to blame for much of the nutrient runoff in that area. 

The river "also has one of the highest concentration of phosphorus going into a Great Lake so there's a huge load and that's going into the western basin, which is shallow and warms quickly. Bacteria like warm water and they do best in shallow water and they also use a lot of phosphorus so that combination will lead to the blooms."

The algae is expected to make its appearance in late July through August in western Lake Erie. 

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