The Essex Region Conservation Authority advises that, due to the record high lake levels, a Flood Watch is in effect for all shoreline areas within the Essex Region, including Pelee Island. Areas of concern are the low lying beach communities and shoreline areas along Lake St. Clair, the Detroit River, and Lake Erie, as well as low lying areas along the downstream reaches of major tributaries. Unless superseded by a Flood Warning, this watch will remain in effect until June 28, 2019 at which time conditions will be reevaluated.
Areas of Potential Concern:
With record high lake levels, areas that may be potentially impacted can vary from day-to-day based on wind speed and direction. Areas at risk of flooding and erosion as it relates to wind are described below:
– Lake St. Clair shoreline from Windsor to Belle River;
– Lake Erie shoreline including Pelee Island;
– Detroit River shoreline; and
– Low-lying areas at the downstream reaches of major tributaries.
– Lake St. Clair Shoreline.
– Lake St. Clair shoreline from Belle River to Tilbury North.
South/southwest and South/southeast Winds:
– Lake Erie shoreline including south Pelee Island.
– West shoreline of Pelee Island.
Current lake levels are surpassing record high monthly means recorded in 1986 for both Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair. From the month of April to May, Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie rose 19 cm and 22 cm, respectively. This set new records for both lakes for the month of May with elevations of 175.89 metres and 175.05 metres, respectively. The new record for Lake Erie is not only a monthly mean record, but also an all-time high monthly mean record, surpassing the previous record set in June 1986. As we approach mid June, both lakes are still on the rise. As of the week of June 10th, 2019, Lake St. Clair is averaging an elevation of 175.95 metres while Lake Erie is averaging an elevation of 175.10 metres. These levels are static water levels, meaning they do not account for any wind-driven lake setup and waves.
These levels bring an elevated risk of flooding and erosion across the watershed. Typically, sustained wind speeds in the range of 40 to 50 km/hr or higher are associated with an increased risk of flooding, shoreline erosion, and damage to shoreline structures. Elevated lake levels have significantly reduced the required wind speed to cause these issues, as we have experienced multiple occurrences of flooding with wind speeds between 30 and 35 km/hr from the northeast and east/northeast directions.
Additionally, elevated lake levels are causing downstream reaches of major tributaries to remain elevated, and under conditions with lake-setup, this has resulted in some rivers and creeks to spill into low-lying areas impacting private property and some roadways. These elevated lake levels can decrease the outflows from tributaries, reducing their available capacity to handle rainfall events.
Lake Erie is expected to continue to rise over the month of June. If these predictions remain accurate, then Lake Erie would set a new monthly mean record for June and at the same time surpass the all-time high for a second month in a row. Lake St. Clair is currently 3 cm above its monthly mean record for June set in 1986. By the end of June, Lake St. Clair is expected to meet or slightly exceed its record for the month of June. With this information, there is increasing risks of flooding and erosion.
The Municipality of Leamington should continue to monitor the flood control dykes in the Southeast Leamington Area, including the Mersea Road 1 Dyke and the Marentette Dyke. The southern section of the Marentette Beach Road dyke that provides protection for the inland Marentette Dyke has sustained damage from recent storm events through spring 2019. Due to the damage sustained to the outer layer of protection, the interior corner of the Marentette Dyke is more exposed to direct wave impact from Lake Erie, increasing its susceptibility to erosion and risk to flooding. The Municipality of Leamington is actively working to assess the damage and coordinate corrective actions to restore an appropriate level of protection.
The Township of Pelee should continue to monitor areas that have experienced significant erosion, such as portions of West Shore Road and McCormick Road. These areas are at a high risk of being washed-out if substantial winds persist out of the west/southwest.
The City of Windsor should continue to monitor water levels along the flood control dykes within the Little River Drain corridor.
Essex Region Conservation Authority officials will continue to monitor conditions and advise accordingly.
People should take extra caution to avoid areas where flooding is occurring as well as rivers, streams, and shoreline areas during significant rainfall and wind/lake events. The combination of slippery banks, waves, waves overtopping shoreline structures, and fast moving water can be dangerous. Standing water can also present its own unseen hazards. Children, pets, and livestock should be kept away from flowing or standing water as well as shoreline areas.