High water records broken again on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair

Strong waves in Lake Erie. (File photo courtesy of Cindy June via Facebook)

Water levels on Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair have risen again.

The Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority reported on Thursday afternoon that levels on both Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair climbed 21 centimetres during January.

The LTVCA said current water levels on the lakes now exceed their all-time monthly average records for January, February, and March set back in the 1980s. It added there is an increased risk of shoreline flooding on both lakes compared to the last four months. The conservation authority said moderate to strong sustained winds and/or heavy rains could cause flooding, erosion and shoreline damage on both lakes.

“Daily average water levels on Lake Erie peaked on June 22nd at an elevation of 175.19 m. By December 31st, they had fallen back to 174.64 m. However, water levels started to rise again at the beginning of January and have now climbed back up to 174.92 m,” the LTVCA said in a statement released Thursday.

Jason Wintermute of the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority said current water levels are similar to what was observed in late April or early September of last year. He said, however, current forecasts are predicting this rise in lake levels will flatten out over the month of February but they are not expected to drop.

Lake St. Clair is experiencing and will experience exactly the same conditions.

LTVCA said the lakes have not frozen over this year, as predicted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in the U.S. in early January, which has allowed continued wave spray type flooding throughout the winter. The conservation authority added that although temperatures may drop enough in February to put ice on the lakes, it seems unlikely that the lakes can accumulate enough ice thickness to prevent shoreline flooding and erosion from a significant wind event.

Wintermute added long-range forecasts, which could be significantly impacted by spring weather conditions, predict peak water levels this summer to be similar to those last year.