Which States Border Lake Erie?

A beach on Lake Erie in Pennsylvania.

Lake Erie is part of the North America’s Great Lakes. It is the 4th largest of the five and the 11th largest lake globally in regards to the surface area. Lake Erie is the smallest by volume and the shallowest of five lakes. It has a maximum length of 241 miles, a width of 57 miles and covers a total area of 9,910 square miles. Its average depth is 62 feet. On average, the lake holds 116 cubic miles. The lake has the shortest retention time of all the Great Lake; inflowing water stays for 2.6 years before flowing to Lake Ontario through the Welland Canal. The lake is the southernmost of the five lakes and is located on the boundary between the U.S and Canada. It lies on the southern part of the Province of Ontario, Southeast of Michigan, North of Ohio, Northwest of Pennsylvania, and Southwest of New York state.

Inlet and Outlets

The Detroit River flows from Lake St. Clair and is Lake Erie’s primary inflow. The lake naturally drains through the Niagara River that spins turbines at the Niagara Falls to produce power used by both countries. The Welland Canal connects Lake Erie to Lake Ontario and allows the movement of ships across the two lakes. Other contributors to the lake include the Huron, Maumee, Grand, and Buffalo Rivers. The lake ecosystem is affected by human activities and is showing signs of algae blooms, overfishing, and chemical and plastic pollution.

Geographic Features

The lake’s absolute location is denoted as 42.2° N, 81.2W, and lies at an elevation of 571 ft above the sea level. The water’s shallow depth means that it is the warmest of the five lakes. In 1999 the increase in water temperature led became a problem for the nuclear plants that depend on the lake to cool the reactors. The shallow depth also poses a problem during the winter as the lake becomes the first to freeze during the winter preventing vessels from traversing across. Several islands flock the western end of the lake most of which are on Ohio’s territory except for nine including Pelee which are part of the Province of Ontario. The cities of Ohio, Cleveland, Buffalo, Erie, and Toledo and just but some of the cities located along the shore of the lake.

Water Levels

The lake retains water for about 2.6 years; the shortest of all of the Great Lakes. On average there are 116 cubic miles of water, but the level fluctuates based on seasons and the water level on the other lakes. January and February experience the lowest levels while June and July experience the highest. The annual average shifts based on precipitation while the seiches result in short-term changes.


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