UPDATED: Damage reported due to seiche weather phenomenon

The Manistee River Channel experienced a fluctuation in water levels on Friday due to a weather phenomenon called a seiche, caused by extreme high or low-pressure systems and/or wind-driven "wave run up," resulting in sudden and extreme water fluctuations. (Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

The Manistee River Channel experienced a fluctuation in water levels on Friday due to a weather phenomenon called a seiche, caused by extreme high or low-pressure systems and/or wind-driven “wave run up,” resulting in sudden and extreme water fluctuations. (Ken Grabowski/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — Authorities are warning Manistee area residents to stay away from all access points to Lake Michigan, Manistee Lake and the Manistee River channel, due to extreme weather conditions that has caused damage to the area and major public safety concerns.

Jeff Mikula, Manistee Department of Public Works (DPW) director, said the DPW was notified at 12:37 p.m. on Friday about extreme water level fluctuations in the Manistee River Channel.

As a result, the entire Manistee Riverwalk, Fifth Avenue Beach, First Street boat launch, Ninth Street boat launch and Arthur Street boat launch were closed on Friday until further notice.

Within the past 24 hours, damage to the Manistee City Marina and Riverwalk has already been reported, with docks completely under water.

“We have crews out right now assessing the rest of the shoreline to see what other safety issues there are, and what other damage has occurred,” said Mikula, on Friday. “So far from what we have seen, there’s all kinds of damage from erosion to shoreline structures, docks and we could see a lot of debris floating in the river itself.”

The fluctuations in water levels, Mikula said, are due to a weather phenomenon called a seiche, which is not particularly uncommon during severe weather.

A seiche is caused by extreme high or low-pressure systems and/or wind-driven “wave run up,” resulting in sudden and extreme water fluctuations. Mikula said the seiche could last for an unknown amount of time.

“Almost every storm there are slight elevation changes,” said Mikula. “This one is pretty extreme. So, we have to wait for the water to balance itself out in the lake. There could be another system that comes across that causes another similar situation.”

Tim Kozal, Department of Public Safety director, said the city deployed personnel from around Manistee County to assess the damage and close all access points to the water, in order to protect the public.

Assisting the Manistee Police department, DPW and Manistee Fire department, is the U.S. Coast Guard Station Manistee, Michigan State Police, Manistee County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Natural Resources and Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Department of Public Safety.

On Friday, Kozal said signage and barricades were put up at all city access points to the waterways, warning residents not to trespass or they could be arrested.

“We just want to make sure that the public understands that this is for their safety,” he said. “We need to be able to assess everything… I know there are going to be a lot of curious minds out there, and we’ve already had to kick some people off from the Fifth Avenue pier.”

Since the phenomenon was reported, Mikula said the levels in the Manistee River Channel, at one point, were observed at nearly eight feet high, occurring within only 10 to 15 minutes.

The U.S. Coast Guard has also broadcasted warnings for the harbor, and closed it to all boat traffic. Mikula said the city will also stay in touch with the National Weather Service, notifying the public of any changes in weather or dangerous conditions.

“We are looking for advice from (the National Weather Service) on what they see,” said Mikula. “We don’t have any predictions (as to) when the event could reoccur.”

A winter storm watch was issued on Friday by the National Weather Service, predicting snow, strong winds and freezing rain across the central and northern regions of the Lower Peninsula, beginning late on Friday through Sunday.

Residents should expect a foot or more of snow, which is possible across the northern Lower and southern Upper peninsulas. Conditions could result in power outages and dangerous travel conditions, according to a press release from the MSP.

Motorists should check travel conditions and weather reports before driving at www.michigan.gov/roadconditions. Major road closures can be found at www.michigan.gov/drive.

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MANISTEE — The City of Manistee Department of Public Works was notified at 12:37 today of water fluctuations in the Manistee River channel.

It appeared a weather phenomenon, called a sieche, was occurring, according to a press release from the City of Manistee Department of Public Safety. A sieche is caused by extreme high or low-pressure systems or wind-driven wave run up and results in sudden and extreme water fluctuations. Levels in the Manistee River channel were observed to fluctuate eight feet within 10 to 15 minutes.

Damage to the City Marina and Riverwalk has already been observed. As a result, the entire City Riverwalk is closed to all access. In addition, the First Street boat launch, the Ninth Street boat launch and the Arthur Street boat launch are all closed until they can be assessed.

The U.S. Coast Guard is broadcasting warnings for the harbor and is in the process of closing the harbor to all boat traffic.

At this time, the City of Manistee Police Department, Department of Public Works and Fire Department are being assisted by the United States Coast Guard, Michigan State Police, Manistee County Sheriff’s Office, the Department of Natural Resources and the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians Department of Public Safety.

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