Lake Ontario likely to exceed 2017 water levels

May 28, 2019

Water levels in Lake Ontario keep rising.

The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board said on Monday that water levels have reached 248.85 feet and will likely reach or exceed the 2017 record high of 248.95 feet within the next few days.

Forecasts show that Lake Ontario levels are expected to crest within the next one to three weeks, mostly within an inch or so of the record high, but officials say that potentially higher levels are possible should wet weather continue.

“We do anticipate that we’ll probably reach peak levels on Lake Ontario within one to two weeks,” said Bryce Carmichael, the U.S. secretary at the board.

Carmichael said Lake Ontario is still receiving too much water from Lake Erie (which is not regulated), through the Niagara River, which is at a record high and almost 30 inches above average for this time of year, as well as above average rainfall.

The board can somewhat regulate the lake level through the Moses Saunders Dam on the St. Lawrence River, and officials say they have been increase those ‘outflows’ since May 16.  They also say that outflow increases are expected to continue as frequently as conditions allow.

The amount of water that is released from Lake Ontario is balanced against any flooding issues that may occur downstream, toward the Montreal area. That region is affected by the amount of water coming out of the Ottawa River.

The National Weather Service issued a Lakeshore Flood Warning from Tuesday morning through Tuesday afternoon for Orleans, Niagara and Monroe counties, but it was canceled early Tuesday. The Weather Service said the combination of very high lake levels and moderate east-northeast winds was expected to result in greater wave action and an increase in lakeshore flooding on the western  portion of Lake Ontario.

Fernando Narro contributed to this story.