Plan 2014 (High Lake Levels)

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With Lake Ontario water levels declining, Board adjusts outflow strategy

Date
May 29, 2020
Lake Ontario levels peaked early this year at 75.40 m (247.38 ft.) on 5 May, 10 cm (4 inches) below the general flood stage and over a half meter (20 inches) lower than the peak in 2019. Lake levels are expected to continue their seasonal decline through summer, and have fallen 6 cm (2 in.) from the crest to date.
Lower Lake Ontario levels and the continuing high outflows are causing increased currents in the upper St. Lawrence River and also extremely low levels on Lake St. Lawrence, the forebay just upstream of the Moses-Saunders Power Dam. The International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board has assessed the situation carefully and, if necessary, will act to augment low levels at this location over the coming weeks.
The Board’s extended general deviation authority (as granted by the International Joint Commission (IJC) on 9 October 2019) has ended. The Board is no longer deviating by releasing outflows above Plan 2014 prescribed flows, since Lake Ontario reached its peak and began its seasonal decline. The peak level of Lake Ontario is still well above average, but was reduced by 18 cm (7 in.) owing to deviations from Plan 2014. These deviation totals accumulated over the past several months as the Board attempted to remove as much water as possible from Lake Ontario, prior to spring.
Drier conditions have prevailed in recent weeks, including around Lake Ontario and in the Ottawa and lower St. Lawrence River basins. These are the primary reasons for the recent decline in Lake Ontario levels, which has occurred despite very high inflows from the extremely high upper Great Lakes. These high inflows will continue for the foreseeable future and, in response, Plan 2014 will continue to prescribe very high outflows, which will enhance Lake Ontario’s seasonal decline.
However, the lower and declining levels on Lake Ontario combined with the high outflows through the Moses-Saunders Power Dam that will continue are resulting in very low levels on Lake St. Lawrence that are anticipated to persist for months to come. This will be the fourth straight summer of well-below-average levels of Lake St. Lawrence, which responds much more rapidly and significantly to increases in outflows than the much larger Lake Ontario upstream. Had the Board not deviated and removed water from Lake Ontario since last spring, Lake St. Lawrence would currently be approximately 14 cm (6 in.) higher.
On a 22 May teleconference, the Board agreed to tap into the accumulated water removed from Lake Ontario, if needed, to maintain levels on Lake St. Lawrence above 73.0 m or 239.50 ft (40 cm or 16 inches above the usual navigation-season low limit) until after the 7 September long weekend. As the Board returns to plan flows, Lake St. Lawrence is expected to remain above this threshold for several weeks unless winds cause it to temporarily fall below.
Note that maintaining Lake St. Lawrence levels above 73.0 m (239.5 ft) under actual conditions wetter than normal will require no flow reductions which might cause higher Lake Ontario levels. Wet conditions would cause higher Lake Ontario levels, which would result in Lake St. Lawrence levels above 73.0 m, even with high outflows. Maintaining Lake St. Lawrence levels would also have no impact on levels heading into 2021 under such wet conditions and the Board emphasizes that lake level and other conditions at the end of 2020 are poor indicators of what levels will be like in 2021. The primary factors are what Lake Erie inflows and Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River basin snowmelt, runoff and precipitation conditions are experienced next spring.
Augmenting Lake St. Lawrence levels may occur if very dry conditions result in lower Lake Ontario levels. At most, this would result in Lake Ontario levels up to 8 cm (3.2 in.) higher by 7 September than what they would be without this strategy, but only under the very driest water supply scenarios where Lake Ontario is much lower on its own. Most scenarios result in much smaller differences. Differences will be further reduced through the fall, such that, by the end of 2020, there is expected to be almost no difference in levels throughout the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River System.
Shoreline businesses and property owners are reminded that the GLAM Committee continues to host an online questionnaire to allow for direct reporting on impacts related to recent high water conditions that can be incorporated into the expedited review effort. The 2020 version of the questionnaire is now available on the GLAM Committee's website: https://ijc.org/glam/questionnaire
Information on hydrologic conditions, water levels and outflows, including graphics and photos, are available on the Board’s website and posted to the Board’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/InternationalLakeOntarioStLawrenceRiverBoard (English), and more detailed information is available on its website at https://www.ijc.org/en/loslrb.
https://ijc.org/en/loslrb/lake-ontario-water-levels-declining-board-adjusts-outflow-strategy
 

scotto

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Another drop in the lake water level for the month of July, our canal water level meter shows a drop of about eight inches. Hopefully the trend continues over the next few months. The somewhat dry weather has helped but all the upper lakes are still well above normal levels and all that water still has to end up in Lake Ontario.
July2020.JPG


The monthly graph shows the decline in level and the blue line represents 76 meters above sea level, this was the levels we reached back in 2017 and 2019.
July2020.jpg
 

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Rising waters
Experts say humans can't control Great Lakes water levels
By Sheri Mcwhirter smcwhirter@record-eagle.com
1596479301263.png

May 16, 2020

TRAVERSE CITY — Great Lakes water levels are shattering high records and the experts agree there is rather little that can be done to change that — the environment is almost entirely in control.

“The reality is Mother Nature is going to overtake us,” said Bernd Gigas, consulting engineer for Lake Ontario South Shore Engineering.

A series of experts in hydrology, engineering, shoreline protection, emergency management and environmental law spent hours this week talking and answering questions during online webinars about the ongoing high water levels on the Great Lakes. Both nonprofits Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council in Petoskey and Great Lakes Coalition in Saugatuck hosted the online events Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The consensus among the experts was the natural environment is far more in control than humans could ever hope to be, and the best way to cope may well be to simply back up from the water’s edge.

Countless homeowners along the shorelines of the Great Lakes have watched the water get closer and closer, and the water gobble up more land with every storm. Many are left wondering how to protect their homes from literally splashing into the rising waters.

Jennifer McKay, policy director with the Petoskey-based agency, said that ultimately, it is often more cost-effective and environmentally sound for shoreline property owners to move their homes further away from the water. It can be done for between $12 and $16 per square foot, she said.

However, many shoreline homeowners instead try to hold back the big lakes and their effects.

“We see excessive or poorly designed structures that can increase damage to neighboring properties and disrupt natural processes along the shoreline,” McKay said.

Adding boulders, seawalls or other hardening methods doesn’t help absorb wave energy, forcing that energy downward and sideways. That results in scouring the lake bottom and often undercutting the structure, or causing undue erosion on neighboring properties, McKay said.

She said those methods are no good for water quality or aquatic habitats, either.

In terms of money, McKay said some property owners may in the end invest more in repeated shoreline measures than if they’d instead moved their home back from the water’s edge, which she said can also be a better long-term environmental solution.

Joe Haas, water resources division district manager for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, said the state agency doesn’t like to permit seawalls — they are typically even frowned upon.

He confirmed attempts to “hard armor” the shoreline often end up with accentuated erosion on neighboring properties and water getting behind the structure, anyway.

Other experts discussed what additional things could be done to affect water levels.

Howard Learner, president of Chicago-based environmental advocacy group Environmental Law & Policy Center, said overall climate trends show movement toward greater extremes for Great Lakes water levels — both low and high.

“We need to recognize climate change realities,” he said, adding better land use planning must be done based on that.

Gigas, a New York-based engineer who said he lives on the Lake Ontario shoreline, said there are only four places within the entire Great Lakes system where humans have any control over inflow or outflow rates.

The Ogoki and Longlac diversions in Ontario for hydropower amounts to the only human-controlled inlet into the Great Lakes at Lake Superior, while the Chicago River and the Moses-Saunders Power Dam at the St. Lawrence River are the only human-controlled outlets.

The Soo Locks serve as an inter-lake control, Gigas said.

“No one controls the weather. Soo Locks and Moses-Saunders Dam have influence but not complete control of water levels,” he said.

Actions the engineer said are reasonable and could help alleviate extremely high water levels include reducing or eliminating Lake Superior inflow diversions — like the Ogoki and Longlac — during high water periods, plus increasing the outflow from Lake Michigan through the Chicago River.

Gigas also said infrastructure changes could be made to increase the capacity of the St. Clair and Detroit Rivers, as well as the Niagara River. But that would have flooding impacts downstream and could also prove problematic during low water level years, he said.

And really, he said all that would have marginal impacts, as weather patterns have greater influence on the lakes’ levels.

“There is only so much we can do,” Gigas said. “We don’t control the weather.”

Maybe it’s time to recognize the risk property owners who built too close the shoreline took when they chose where to live — including himself, the engineer said.

Learner said much of western Michigan along the Lake Michigan shoreline wasn’t developed with current water levels in mind, which is why many homeowners there are fraught over the ongoing erosion.

He said it’s time to rethink how building is allowed in these places and not only in terms of residential neighborhoods; Learner pointed to multiple toxic and nuclear waste storage sites along the Lake Michigan shoreline that could become public health threats in the face of continued high water levels.

Meanwhile, physical scientist Deanna Apps with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, reported Lakes Michigan and Huron broke high water level records every month this year since January.

She said those lakes — considered one water body by federal hydrologists — are tracking toward continued broken high water level records at least through July, when the peak is expected before the normal seasonal decline.

Both webinars are expected to be posted at www.watershedcouncil.org and www.greatlakescoalition.org online.

Whole article;'
https://www.record-eagle.com/news/l...cle_1223be0c-9605-11ea-bd39-67fd01f11327.html
 

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Outflows to increase from Lake Ontario
Belleville, ON, Canada / Quinte News
John Spitters
Aug 31, 2020 4:15 AM



It’s been a much better year than last as far as flooding is concerned in the Quinte region.
According to the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board, Lake Ontario’s levels peaked early in May at 75.4 metres which is 10 centimetres below the general flood stage and a half metre below the peak of last year.
Levels have steadily decreased since then.
However the lake’s water levels still remain 13 cm above normal levels for this time of year causing the board to decide that after the Labour Day long weekend higher volumes of water from Lake Ontario will be released downstream during the fall.
https://www.quintenews.com/2020/08/31/outflows-to-increase-from-lake-Ontario/
 

scotto

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Attached is the Lake Ontario water level graph for the month of August, notice a minor decrease in levels of about .2 meters. Not much, but still going down.


 

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Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Shoreline Landowners and Businesses High Water Impacts Questionnaire
https://ijc.org/en/glam/questionnaire
Have you been directly impacted by recent high water levels along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River shoreline?

Ongoing wet conditions throughout the Great Lakes - St. Lawrence River basin have resulted in record-high or near record-high water levels in each of the Great Lakes over the past couple of years. These high water level conditions have caused tremendous challenges (which are still ongoing in certain areas) for people living and working along the Great Lakes – St. Lawrence River shoreline including direct damages to their homes and valued property.

The IJC’s Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Adaptive Management (GLAM) Committee is working closely with the IJC’s International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) and the International Lake Superior Board of Control (ILSBC) to gather input from property and business owners who have been directly affected by recent high water levels. The committee is hoping you will provide information through this voluntary on-line questionnaire to describe the impacts you have experienced. Your input will be invaluable to the committee in evaluating and improving the scientific and engineering models that have been developed to estimate potential damages under a range of Great Lakes water level conditions. Such evaluation is a critical requirement for the GLAM Committee as it assesses the performance of the regulation plans that are used to manage outflows from Lake Superior and Lake Ontario. The information will also be made available to the ILOSLRB and the ILSBC to support their ongoing operational activities. Data provided through the questionnaire will only be reported in a summarized format to ensure the privacy of respondents.

After some basic location questions, you can choose to:

  • Complete the full questionnaire and upload photos (encouraged)
  • Just upload photos
  • Just complete the questionnaire
If you choose to share any photos, please submit a file size no larger than 8MB in size.

The questionnaire should take about 20 minutes to complete, but may take much longer depending on extent of impacts being reported on.

Because water levels vary from year to year on each of the Great Lakes, you are asked to report on impacts observed during a specific calendar year (e.g. 2019, 2020, etc.). You are encouraged to complete the questionnaire once you know all of your property impacts. Should you wish to update your information at a later date in response to new or changing conditions and impacts, please complete the questionnaire again using the same address you used in the original questionnaire.


Report on shoreline impacts observed in 2020

COMPLETE THE 2020 QUESTIONNAIRE




Report on shoreline impacts observed in 2019

COMPLETE THE 2019 QUESTIONNAIRE



Past versions of the questionnaire:



If you experience technical difficulties while completing the questionnaire, or have questions about the questionnaire, please contact the GLAM Committee at GLAM@ijc.org.


** This questionnaire is a modified version of one previously developed at Cornell University with support from New York Sea Grant that was conducted along the USA Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River Shoreline in the summer of 2017 and then adapted by the GLAM Committee in the fall 2017 and covered all of Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River. It has been modified again to allow responses for the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system.
 

scotto

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The lake Ontario water level graph for the month of September 2020, the level has dropped almost eight inches in one month, very good news. As you can see on the graph, the level has dropped from 0.8 meters to 0.6, last year we didn't reach this mark as we stayed around the 0,8 area until the level started it's yearly increase.



 
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scotto

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Less of a problem: Water levels likely won’t be as high this year along shoreline
May 6, 2020

Following a horrendous period of flooding, people living along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River have a bit of good news to claim.
The mild winter and spring have resulted in modestly lower water levels. While no one can tell what will occur in the months ahead, shoreline residents have a glimmer of hope that this year may not be as bad as last year.
The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, overseen by the International Joint Commission, said last month that water levels are expected to peak “well below” the record highs of 2017 and 2019. Lake Ontario’s level was 15.7 inches above average but 13.4 inches below the record levels established in 1973, an April 21 news release issued by the board reported.

“Water levels remain high across the Great Lakes basin. The four upper Great Lakes are near or above record-high levels, while Lake Ontario is still well above average but also well below record levels,” according to the news release. “Lake Ontario is now likely to remain below record highs through the spring. This is largely due to favorable weather conditions but also demonstrates the effectiveness of water regulation to help the system recover after the recent record-high water events. A mild winter and early spring, along with only moderately wet conditions so far this year, have resulted in less water flowing into Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River when compared to 2017 and 2019 and has allowed the release of outflows near or above record rates over the past several months. Following record outflows in winter, this spring the Ottawa River freshet has evolved in a manner that allows the board to continue to release high outflows as it follow its strategy to maximize outflows to lower the water level of Lake Ontario.”

It’s apparent that Plan 2014, the water-management policy adopted by the IJC several years ago, did not cause the high water levels along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in 2017 and 2019. Precipitation throughout the Great Lakes basin was excessive in those years, and much of that water ended up here. This was not the case in 2018, so the water levels were not as problematic.
It’s too early to determine if flooding will affect shoreline residents in the near future and to what extent. But the good news is that the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board has been able to increase outflows and continue lowering water levels.

Read whole article;
https://www.nny360.com/opinion/edit...cle_6eba41a5-0076-5d04-8ef9-226aa96a427a.html

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Our canal water level meter shows that the lake down to almost the sixth ladder step, I haven't seen this rung for many years. Good news.

Oct8.JPG
 

scotto

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Not much of a change for the month of October 2020, the shipping companies most likely don't want the lake level to get much lower anyway as they will be forced to carry less cargo which means less profit.




Checking our canal meter from October compared to September above, very little change.
Oct31.JPG
 

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Look for extremely low water levels to return this winter
December 19, 2020 By Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Low water levels approved for January-February 2021 Another deviation from the Plan 2014 water management plan for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River was approved by the International Joint Commission. The approved plan will see more water drained out of Lake Ontario to help mitigate shoreline flooding next spring. In January 2020, the IJC approved a similar plan which saw water levels on lowered well below minimum levels required for navigation on the St. Lawrence Seaway. Pictured above is this January 5th, 2020 photo from the Morrisburg Dock showing the extreme-low water levels on Lake St. Lawrence along the Morrisburg Waterfront (The Leader/Blancher photo) PHILLIP BLANCHER phillip@blanche
SOUTH DUNDAS – Extremely low water levels may return to Lake St. Lawrence after the close of the 2020 shipping season on the St. Lawrence Seaway.
The International Joint Commission announced on December 11th that it had approved a plan to deviate from its Plan 2014 to drain more water out of the Great Lakes system.
Rob Caldwell, Canadian Secretary for the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board said that this deviation plan will be similar to January 2020.
For several weeks in January, water levels along the upper portion of Lake St. Lawrence towards Iroquois dropped several feet, exposing parts of the man-made lake that had been flooded for decades.
Caldwell said that the move to release higher than normal amounts of water through the dams at Cornwall and Long Sault depends largely on the weather and ice formation on Lake St. Lawrence.
“It could be well into January before ice is formed this season,” he said.
While water levels on Lake Ontario did not reach the level of flooding in 2020 that had been previously seen in 2017 and 2019, there are high water levels on other lakes in the system.
The ILOSLR says that the levels on Lake Ontario have declined to “just above the seasonal long-term average.”
The water levels on Lake St. Lawrence are expected to stay above the minimum levels needed for municipal water supply intakes and ice formation. Should ice formation start with a cold snap, the increased water outflows would stop until ice had fully formed, then resume.
The planned deviation from the Plan 2014 water management plan is authorized until the end of February but may be extended due to conditions.
In a release the board said that even with the planned draining of more water from Lake Ontario, it is not a fix for shoreline flooding as seen in 2017 and 2019.

“If basin conditions are extremely wet, no deviation strategy will prevent water levels that can cause flooding and damage shoreline properties,” the board said. “Providing those types of benefits are beyond the reach of water regulation and are more reliably addressed through coastal resilience and planning.”
The IJC order approving the changes goes into effect January 1st, 2021. The St. Lawrence Seaway shipping season closes December 24th with the final vessel passage set for December 31st.
New board takes shape
The smaller ILOSLR board now has board members. As reported previously, the IJC approved contracting the size of the board from 12 to six members, with three representatives from Canada, and three from the United States.
Geneviève Béchard (Canada), Patricia Clavet (Quebec), Joan Frain (Ontario), Stephen Durrett (United States), Thomas Brown (New York State), and Anthony David (IJC) are the six appointees. Kyle McCune serves as alternate member for Brown.
Béchard and Durrett are co-chairs of the board.
All six members of this new incarnation of the ILOSLR served on the previous 12-member board.
An interim advisory group has also been appointed, which is comprised of the six ILOSLR members who left the board in the restructuring. The IAG was formed to retain the “professional expertise formerly represented on the board.”
The members of the IAG are Jean Aubry-Morin (Commercial Navigation), Marc Hudon (Lower St. Lawrence River), Suzie Miron (Municipal Interests – St. Lawrence River), Robert Campany (Upper St. Lawrence River), Diane Kuehn (Recreation and Tourism), and Bill Reilich (Municipal Interests – Lake Ontario).
The board restructuring took effect December 1st.
This story was originally written for and appeared in The Morrisburg Leader.

https://www.cornwallseawaynews.com/...emely-low-water-levels-to-return-this-winter/
 
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scotto

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Even though the above article states that Lake Ontario is still being drained, the level inched up in December. The graph shows a slight increase of about 0.1 meters.


 
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scotto

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What’s going on here at Confederation Beach Park?
Shoreline repairs close two sections of Waterfront Trail
Community Jan 13, 2020 by Richard Leitner Stoney Creek News



An excavator prepares to scoop up some stones during shoreline repair work by Wild Waterworks on Jan. 7. - Richard Leitner/Torstar
Sections of the Waterfront Trail at Confederation Beach Park were closed and rerouted on Jan. 6 to allow for shoreline repairs by Hutch’s restaurant and the Wild Waterworks Park.
JUST THE FACTS:
° The work is expected to take six to eight weeks, but could be delayed by weather, says Andrea McDonald, a senior project manager with the City of Hamilton’s public works department.

° At Wild Waterworks, stones weighing three to five tonnes are being buried at the base of the shoreline slope. The slope is then lined with geotextile and topped with specifically sized rip rap (stone), and capped with two layers of randomly placed armour stone. The area will then be restored with excavated sand and gravel.
° The protection at Hutch’s is slightly different because of the different beach size and lake conditions. Measures there include an armour stone cap at the top of the slope and placement of rip rap over geotextile to a 2:1 slope down to the water.
° The city awarded the $720,433.55 contract for the repairs to low bidder TDI International Ag Inc dba Eco Blue Systems last May.
° The city is planning repairs to a third area along the beach, by Lakeland Go-Karts, which will be part of a future capital budget.



by Richard Leitner
I have had some residents asking about the on-going construction just south of the go-kart track. Large loaders have been moving multiple tons of stone from the parking lot down to the beach to re-enforce the area to protect the shoreline and the trail section.
Many thanks to the contractor from letting me take a few pictures during a work break.

Stone1.JPG
Stone2.JPG
Stone3.JPG
 

scotto

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January monthly update, we should be seeing a normal increase in lake levels at this time of year but the levels move up and down all month only be be at basically the point at the end of the month, move good news.

 

scotto

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Normally I post the lake water levels at the end of the month, but this February has been going against the norm. In past years we would see a steady increase in water levels at this time of the year, but since the beginning of the month we have seen a decrease.


Lake Ontario water levels have dropped below average for the first time in years
Weather Blog

by: James Gilbert
Posted: Feb 7, 2021 / 11:38 PM EST

ROCHESTER, NY (WROC) – The annual average Lake Ontario water level is 245.31 feet. Water levels vary based on many factors that include seasonal rainfall, snow melt, evaporation, drought conditions, flows downstream, and regulations laid out in Plan 2014. This year has been the first in many that levels have dropped below average.

The lake had record flood events in both 2017 and 2019. There have been only a few periods of below average water levels in the last five years, with 2021 so far being one of those years. 2020 did have monthly water levels drop below 245.31 feet, but the yearly average remained higher.


As of February 4, Lake Ontario Water Levels currently sit at 244.62″. The last time water levels were this low was back in December 2016.



Read whole article;
https://www.rochesterfirst.com/weat...erage-for-the-first-time-in-years/#/questions
 

scotto

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Low risk of high water: Regulators have determined flooding not as likely this year Regulators have determined flooding not as likely this year

Outflows from the Robert Moses-Robert H. Saunders Power Dam near Massena have increased to reduce the likelihood of flooding this spring and summer. Christopher Lenney/Watertown Daily Times

Heavy flooding in 2017 and 2019 led to criticism against the International Joint Commission’s ability to react to high-water events under Plan 2014, its water-management policy. Watertown Daily Times


It appears there’s a lower risk of a significant rise in water levels this year in Northern New York.
In a news release issued Friday, the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board said it was “optimistic that weather conditions the rest of this winter and spring won’t cause a damaging rise in Lake Ontario levels this year. However, it has been acting proactively since [Jan. 1] to reduce lake levels this winter just in case the weather turns wet. Somewhat drier weather conditions over the past several months coupled with favorable river ice conditions and continued high outflows from Lake Ontario have caused a decline in the lake’s level such that it is now a few centimeters below the seasonal long-term average.”

Read whole article;
https://www.nny360.com/opinion/edit...cle_1afbad89-03c8-5695-8d8e-09e0bbb75c12.html



As I wrote above, the lake level should be heading up, but they have not. We will have some warmer weather in the next few days and there is a lot of snow to get rid of, that should get the level heading up.
 
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