Lake Erie Water Level Nearing Record High

The monthly average water level on Lake Erie for 2019 is now nearing record levels set in May of 1986, according to the National Weather Service. This spring has brought very saturated conditions to much of the Great Lakes region. According to the US Army Corps of Engineers May report, precipitation across the Lake Erie basin was at 137% of average for April. Lake Erie is forecast to reach it’s annual peak during the month of May.

Water levels fluctuate on seasonal, monthly, and daily time scales. Seasonal and monthly water level averages are driven by the amount of water flowing into and out of the Great Lakes (via precipitation into the lakes or surrounding watersheds or evaporation). On time scales of days or even hours, meteorological conditions can lead to locally varying water levels. This can pose a threat to life and property from lakeshore flooding and beach and shore erosion. 

Recently, the combination of the lake level running above normal and elevated winds, local surges in water levels have impacted coastal communities. The National Weather Service is responsible for alerting these communities of threats to life and/or property and this includes the issuance of Lakeshore Flood Warnings.

Flooding from a localized rise in lake level can cause road closures, flood water damage to businesses and homes, cause marinas and beaches to be inaccessible, and produce significant property/shore erosion. While recent flooding has been focused on the western lakeshore, these impacts can also take place across any part of the lakeshore with the right meteorological and lake level conditions.

The National Weather Service is working closely with local emergency managers to relay impacts from the lakeshore flooding.