TOLEDO, Ohio (AP) — Federal researchers say the harmful algae on Lake Erie this year was relatively mild compared with past years.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the algae outbreak also fell short of what scientists expected.

An algae bloom began forming in June in western Lake Erie a few weeks earlier than usual. But dry conditions settled across the region during the summer.

Scientists says the algae bloom broke apart after a big storm in early September and was gone by October, earlier than most years.

A year ago, the algae on Lake Erie roughly matched the third-most severe bloom over the past 15 years.

The potentially toxic algae blooms that are fed by farm fertilizer runoff and municipal sewage overflows are a threat to drinking water and aquatic life.