• Water levels on both Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair have finally fallen below the previous 1986 records
• However, water levels are still well above where they were this time last year
• Still a risk of shoreline flooding on both lakes
• Still a risk of erosion and damage to shoreline protection works on both lakes
• Strong sustained winds and/or heavy rains could cause flooding, erosion and shoreline damage
Daily average water levels on Lake Erie peaked on June 22nd at an elevation of 175.19 m (I.G.L.D.) and have since fallen by about 37 cm. This September’s average monthly water level still broke the previous September 1986 record of 174.83 m by 4 cm. However, current water levels are now around 12 cm below the October 1986 monthly water level record. Water level forecasts for Lake Erie suggest that by the end of October water levels are most likely to fall by another 12 cm.
Daily average water levels on Lake St. Clair peaked on July 7/8th at an elevation of 176.08 m (I.G.L.D.) and have since fallen by about 22 cm. This September’s average monthly water levels still broke the previous September 1986 record of 175.84 m by 2 cm. However, current water levels are now around 10 cm below the October 1986 monthly water level record. Water level forecasts for Lake St. Clair suggest that by the end of October water levels are most likely to fall by another 12 cm.
Despite the recent drop in water levels, both Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie are still very high and well above where they were this time last year. With such high water levels, shoreline areas are still highly vulnerable to shoreline damage, flooding and erosion.
Several roads in the region have been closed due to flooding and/or erosion. The most significant of these closures include Talbot Trail (between Coatsworth Road and Stevenson Road in Chatham-Kent) and Rose Beach Line (east of Antrim Road in Chatham-Kent). Erie Shore Drive in Chatham-Kent is still currently closed as well but may be reopened in the future.
Sustained winds can lead to water level changes and waves that cause shoreline issues. Strong winds out of any direction will have an impact on some area along our local shorelines. Wind conditions over the lakes can change quickly and with little warning. Onshore winds forecasted above 30 km/hr could start causing problems and by 35 km/hr flooding can be expected in some low lying areas. The areas most frequently impacted include: Lighthouse Cove when winds are out of the north or west; Erie Shore Drive when winds are out of the south (WSW through ESE); the bay side of Erieau when winds are out of the east or north; Shrewsbury when winds are out of the east (NNE through ESE); and Rose Beach Line when winds are out of the east (NNE through S). Of course, other shoreline areas are also susceptible. 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. Along the bluffs, the erosion can cause land several metres inshore to fall into the lake all at one time.
Heavy rains could also cause flooding in low lying shoreline areas. Due to the high lake levels, the groundwater table is high and storm water sewer systems and local watercourses are full with lake water. As a result, rainwater is not draining properly from these areas. Any water from upstream making its way downstream on these watercourses into these shoreline areas could cause additional flooding.
Shoreline residents need to pay attention as local conditions change and prepare accordingly.
Please contact your local municipality should significant flooding and/or erosion events occur, or should events occur that may impact roadways and other public infrastructure. If there is an imminent risk to personal safety, call 911.
Most importantly, people need to keep themselves safe. Should an event occur, people should take extra caution and avoid the shoreline and any waterways with elevated water levels. The waves on the lakes can be strong, and the shoreline and the banks of waterways can be slippery and unstable. There could also be hazardous debris within the waves and water which could be thrown onto the shoreline. Standing water can also present unseen hazards. Children and animals should be kept away from the water.
This is a standing message issued for the month of October. Should weather forecasts suggest a sustained wind event likely to cause shoreline issues, this message will be upgraded.
Message Contact: Jason Wintermute (519-354-7310 x227) (firstname.lastname@example.org)