Lake Ontario at record level, expected to rise even more this week
Oswego, N.Y. -- Lake Ontario has reached a new record high level, nearly an inch above the record set just two years ago.
The lake is likely to rise for another few days, said the International Joint Commission, the Canada-U.S. partnership that oversees the lake. It could rise for a few more days under current forecasts, but it might not peak for three weeks if more rain falls, the commission said.
“The amount of additional rise will be driven mainly by how much precipitation falls across the basin, with an additional 2 to 8 cm (0.8 to 3.1 inches) forecast under the most likely scenarios,” said the IJC in a news release. “Periods of localized, higher levels are possible during storms and wind events.”
The lake is now at 249.02 feet above sea level. The record from 2017 was 248.95 feet.
A lakeshore flood warning is in effect through 8 a.m. Tuesday for Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Northern Cayuga, Orleans, Oswego and Wayne counties. Strong winds could push water ashore, causing additional flooding, the weather service said.
Oswego city Fire Chief Randy Griffin said today the city is still working to repair the damage from 2017, and there has been more damage to the city’s Wright’s Marina, which was closed indefinitely last week. The marina will remain closed until the water falls sufficiently, he said.
“It should go down soon, and we’re hoping for that,” he said at the marina, as 30 mph strong gusts pushed water over the break wall and generated white caps between the wall and shore. “We’re kind of at the whim of Mother Nature right now.”
The city’s damages haven’t been tallied yet for this year, but Griffin said the city in 2017 sustained $7 million damage and the adjacent Port Authority had $5 million in damages.
The water has been so high and the winds so strong that rocks a foot in diameter were pushed into the outflow pipes from the sewage treatment plant, Griffin said. The pipes, 36 inches in diameter, became so clogged with rocks that divers had to remove the rocks by hand.
The IJC said it will let water out of the lake through the Moses-Saunders dam, in Massena “as rapidly as conditions allow.” The commission said the Ottawa River flows are dropping, but remain high. The Ottawa River flows into the St. Lawrence River at Montreal, and has caused flooding there and in other parts of the river since April.