Lake levels begin their seasonal rise

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Although lake levels on Erie and St. Clair are down from recent years, they remain above average and are beginning their seasonal rise, Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority officials say.

Average daily water levels on Lake Erie at the beginning of this month were down about 52 centimetres from last year’s peak daily average water level record set at the end of May.

However, water levels on April 1 were 38 cm above what would be considered normal for the month, officials said. These levels are expected to climb around 10 cm over the next month.

“Current water levels on the lakes are still well above average,” the conservation authority stated in a standing message for the month. “While water levels are down quite a bit from where they were in either 2020 or 2019 for this time of the year, Lake Erie water levels are similar to where they were around this time of the year in 2017 and Lake St. Clair water levels are similar to where they were around this time of the year in 2018.

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“Given that the significant flooding issues on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair began around 2017, flooding remains a concern.”

Average levels on Lake St. Clair at the beginning of April are down approximately 50 cm from last year’s peak daily average water level record set during the third week of May.

It is also 38 cm lower than it was last year, but 52 cm above what would be considered normal. Levels are expected to rise around eight cm over the next month.

The conservation authority added that in vulnerable areas, such as Erie Shore Drive, flooding can begin at sustained wind speeds of 30 kilometres per hour, with less vulnerable areas needing 45 km/h. Gale force winds of 60 km/h could cause significant flooding and shoreline damage.

“Erosion and shoreline damage are still concerns as well. The same waves that cause wave spray flooding can damage shoreline protection works and cause erosion in unprotected areas,” officials said.

“The bluff areas all along the Lake Erie shoreline are also at a greater risk of erosion due to the high lake levels, especially when there are onshore winds and waves.”

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