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

Jun 3, 2019

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.

Sandbags and an aqua dam are set up along the Lake Ontario shoreline in Oswego
Credit WRVO News (file photo)

The International Lake Ontario-Saint Lawrence River Board said 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 said the pace of the rise in lake levels has eased somewhat in recent days.

“It is a combination of a couple of factors, 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 said.

Carmichael said 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 three inches.

The board said that localized, higher levels are possible during storm and wind events. There is a Lakeshore Flood Warning for counties along the lake until 8:00 a.m on 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.