WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Lake Ontario still at a record high; peak could happen within 1-3 weeks

Jun 4, 2019
Originally published on June 3, 2019 3:40 pm

People who live along the south shore of Lake Ontario are still contending with flooding threats, particularly when the wind comes from a northerly direction, but experts say there may be some hopeful signs as we head into the summer.

As of Monday, the Lake Ontario level was at 249.02 feet, exceeding the record of 248.95 feet that was set in 2017.

The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board says that the water will likely rise gradually over the next several days, but is expected to reach this year’s peak within one to three weeks.

Bryce Carmichael is secretary for the board. He says the pace of the rise in lake levels has eased somewhat in recent days.

“It is a combination of a couple of factors,” Carmichael said. "We are seeing lower precipitation over the last few days  throughout the basin, but also the outflows have been frequently increased over the last few days so they’re starting to catch up with the inflows."

Carmichael says the amount of the additional  increase in lake levels is mainly driven by the amount of rain, but it’s likely to range between just under an inch to just over 3 inches.

The board says that localized, higher levels are possible during storm and wind events. There is a Lakeshore Flood Warning for counties along the lake until 8 a.m. Tuesday due to wind conditions.

The lake board can somewhat regulate the level of Lake Ontario through the amount of water allowed to go through the Moses Saunders dam on the St. Lawrence River, and officials say those outflows will continue to be increased as conditions allow.

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