Strong wind warning issued for residents along Lake Erie

Shoreline of Lake Erie, May 28, 2017. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

A strong wind warning has been issued for residents living along Lake Erie.

Erieau, Shrewsbury, Wheatley, and other low-lying shorelines could see flooding caused from spray when waves crash against, and over shoreline protection works, the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority (LTVCA) said in a statement on Tuesday.

This warning is the latest in a Spring season which has seen numerous weather alerts issued for the region.

During the month of May, levels in both Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair have risen over 20 centimetres each, prompting LTVCA to issue a release just before the long weekend, reminding residents to be cautious when near high water on the shoreline.

On Tuesday, Jason Homewood – a water resources and regulations technician for the authority – said after looking at projections, residents could see above-average water levels all summer. He added forecasts are currently calling for the wind to shift from south to the east overnight with wind speeds around 35 km/hour for a period of approximately 10 hours ending early Wednesday afternoon.  Wind gusts are currently expected to reach up to 55 km/hour with waves building to one metre in height.

“We’re going to be pretty darn close to what the records have been in the mid-80s,” said Homewood. “There could be more record-breaking months ahead of us.”

According to the United States Army Corps of Engineers, Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, St. Clair, and Erie have risen 18 to 25 centimetres between April and May. All of those lakes, however, did not outdo the levels in Lake Ontario which rose 58 centimetres.

For Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair, specifically, Homewood attributes the rise of rainfall combined with 2.4 metres to 3.6 metres of melted snow trickling down from Northern Ontario as a major reason for the continued increase in water levels.

“A lot of it has to do with the amount of precipitation we have received over the last month and the amount of snowfall the upper watershed,” he said. “When that melts and continues  to melt it’s going to be raising the lower basin areas up.”

As residents along the shorelines continue to cope with a record amount of water, they should learn to fit routine shoreline maintenance into their routines, said Homewood.

“People should continue to assess their shoreline erosion,” he said. “It could be daily inspections after each event to make sure there is no undermining occurring or new cracks forming.”