Monday, June 10, 2019

Lake Ontario historic water level

Beating the 2017 high water levels, Lake Ontario hit 75.92 metres above sea level and the lakefront edges of Toronto are getting a little soggy. The Toronto Islands are full of sandbags and water pumps - the west island closed to visitors with no ferry service, in the city areas are temporarily fenced and blockaded, no go zones in case you get a soaker. While the situation around Toronto is mostly one of inconvenience, on Ward's Island peoples homes have been damaged or are still at risk of flooding.

The International Lake Ontario - St Lawrence Board controls the flows of Lake Ontario to keep the levels within a certain range of 75.88m (2017 previous high) to 73.56m above sea level. The 2019 peak should start going down slowly as the outflow through the St Lawrence is now greater than the inflow from Lake Erie and the above average precipitation in Ontario, unless more rain feeds into the Great Lakes. The high water levels have pushed the Board to deviate from regulation above navigation limits to move the water out of Lake Ontario faster than usual to provide relief to shoreline property.
It doesn't take long for underwater vegetation to take hold on the steps that used to be above water

The Board says that "Water levels vary from year-to-year and throughout the year depending on weather and water supply conditions. Such variations benefit coastal wetlands and are critical to a healthy lake environment, but may at times and depending on individual circumstances increase the vulnerability of shoreline structures and reduce opportunities for recreational boating activities. The Board urges everyone to be prepared to live within the full range of levels that have occurred in the past and of those that may occur in the future. Based on historical observations and projected future conditions, at a minimum, Lake Ontario water levels are expected to range from a high of 75.88 m (248.9 ft.) to a low of 73.56 m (241.3 ft.) at infrequent intervals. However, it is also recognized that future climate conditions are uncertain, and more extreme water levels may be reached and these extremes may occur more often. Levels on the St. Lawrence River tend to vary more widely than on Lake Ontario. Also, these levels do not include the varying local effects of strong winds and wave action that significantly increase or decrease local water levels on both the lake and river, with temporary changes of over half a meter (two feet) possible in some locations."
The partly submerged Spadina Wave Deck

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