flood outlook

March 13, 2020

Cataraqui Conservation has issued a Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook for Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River today due to forecasted water levels.

Higher than normal water levels have continued on Lake Ontario throughout the fall and winter. Unprecedented inflows into Lake Ontario have kept these water levels elevated over the past few months. The lake-wide level reported by the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board (ILOSLRB) is 75.17 m, as of March 11, 2020. The level is about 51 cm above average for this time of year and only 14 cm below the record high for this time of year set in 1952.

Water levels have been rising recently, as is typical in early-spring, and the ILOSLRB has forecasted that if weather conditions continue within normal ranges for this time of year, the water levels are predicted to reach 75.3 m by the week of April 10. Peak levels are not expected until later in May. Under seasonally normal weather and water supply conditions, peak levels of around 75.45 m would be expected. However, while there remains considerable uncertainty at this time, higher peak levels are possible if wet conditions occur. For reference, the peak Lake Ontario water level was 75.88 m in 2017 and 75.92 m in 2019.

Widespread flooding is NOT expected at this time. This Flood Outlook Statement provides advance warning to municipalities and residents in flood prone and low-lying areas to the potential for localized flooding and erosion impacts (e.g. shoreline flooding, beach submersion, crawl space inundation, and wave-driven erosion).

Residents in flood prone and low-lying areas should continue to pay attention to wind and wave forecasts for approaching storms with high winds from the southeast, south and southwest, as these are the conditions when the probability of localized impacts (e.g. flooding & erosion) is increased.

Information about current conditions and water level forecasts are available directly from the ILOSLRB at the following links:

If you witness flooding and require assistance, your first point of contact is the local municipality. CRCA does not provide sandbags. However, information about where to purchase sandbags is provided at www.crca.ca/flood. Residents are reminded that it is the property owner’s responsibility to properly dispose of sandbags and sand, which is considered hazardous waste, and any other debris that may have been deposited along the shoreline.

Any work along shorelines (e.g. placement of fill, armour stone, etc.) will require a permit from the CRCA. Call our office or visit our website www.crca.ca for further information.

CRCA appreciates feedback from the public and municipal staff detailing flooding and erosion impacts. Please report observations on the online form at www.crca.ca/flood.

For further information on water levels, wind and wave forecasts, and Provincial flood messages visit www.crca.ca/flood.

For information directly from the International Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board visit:

  • Main website - www.ijc.org/en/loslrb
  • 2017 and 2019 High Water Events page – www.ijc.org/en/loslrb/watershed/2017-and- 2019-high-water-events
  • Current conditions - https://www.ijc.org/en/loslrb/watershed/current-conditions
  • Water level forecasts - https://www.ijc.org/en/loslrb/watershed/forecasts

Staff will continue to monitor International Lake Ontario St. Lawrence River Board water level forecasts, Surface Water Monitoring Centre Provincial Statements, and local water levels, and update CRCA messaging as needed. This Watershed Conditions Statement will remain in effect until (or updated before) 11:59 PM May 13, 2020.

See below for watershed conditions terminology:

Normal: No flood conditions exist

Watershed Conditions Statement – Water Safety: High flows, unsafe banks, melting ice or other factors that could be dangerous for recreational users such as anglers, canoeists, hikers, children, pets, etc. Flooding is not expected.

Watershed Conditions Statement – Flood Outlook: Early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high wind or other conditions that could lead to high runoff, cause ice jams, lakeshore flooding or erosion.

Flood Watch: Flooding is possible in specific watercourse or municipalities. Municipalities, emergency services and individual landowners in flood-prone areas should prepare.

Flood Warning: Flooding is imminent or already occurring in specific watercourses or municipalities. Municipalities and individuals should take action to deal with flood conditions. This may include road closures and evacuations.