By STEVEN MAIER
Capital News Service
LANSING — Predicting water levels in the Great Lakes isn’t as straightforward as it would seem. A warm winter has led to lower ice coverage — just 5 percent of the Great Lakes was covered with ice as of March 1. The average coverage at this time for the last 40 years has been 43 percent, according to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory in Ann Arbor. Less ice means less protection from evaporation and, theoretically, lower water levels, said Jacob Bruxer, a senior water resources engineer with Environment and Climate Change Canada. But it’s not quite that simple.