Flood concerns continue across the Essex Region

Friday, April 17, 2020

Waves smashing shoreline

Essex region – Officials with the Essex Region Conservation Authority continue to monitor and provide flood message alerts to municipalities across the Essex Region. Great Lakes continue to be elevated with the potential for all lakes to set new records in 2020. Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie have either equalled or exceeded previous monthly average records for the months of January, February, and March. Both lakes are on track to break records for April they started 34 cm and 33 cm (respectively) above the starting level in April 2019.

“Current available information indicates high outflows from the Upper Great Lakes along with forecasts showing the possibility of Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie breaking records now through July,” warns James Bryant, Water Resources Engineer. “Current forecasts suggest that levels could peak roughly 8 cm higher than 2019.

As a result of the elevated lake levels, relatively mild winds are able to rapidly raise water levels and generate waves capable of overtopping shoreline structures. Additionally, nearshore erosion rates are increased due to high water levels, further increasing the risk of damaging infrastructure and increasing the risk of flooding. Tributaries remain high due to the elevated static lake level, increasing the risk of riverine flooding.

To date in 2020, more than nine flooding events have taken place at municipalities across the region.

Flood Events Summary: January 1, 2020 – Present
Date Type of Flooding Cause Most Impacted Areas
January 9, 2020 Shoreline Strong east / southeast winds Leamington between Wheatley Harbour and Point Pelee National Park. Cotterie Park Road inundated.
January 11, 2020 Riverine Significant region-wide rainfall over 48 hours Region-wide standing water, high tributary water levels spilling into low-lying areas and floodplains.
March 6, 2020 Shoreline Strong north winds Lakeshore between Duck Creek and Ruscom River. Valentino Avenue inundated.
March 22, 2020 Shoreline Strong northeast winds Leamington between Wheatley Harbour and Point Pelee National Park, LaSalle shoreline area.
March 28, 2020 Riverine Significant region-wise rainfall in a 12 hour period Region-wide standing water, high tributary water levels spilling into low-lying areas and floodplains. Belle River, Little River, and Turkey Creek water levels rose rapidly as a result of the short rainfall duration.
March 29, 2020 Shoreline Strong southwest winds Leamington west of Point Pelee National Park. Point Pelee Drive between Sturgeon Creek and Mersea Road 12 inundated.
April 9, 2020 Shoreline Cold front with strong northerly gusts for a short duration
(4 am to 6 am)
Lakeshore – Shoreline Ave., Caille, and Charron Beach Road. Water levels spiked on Lake St. Clair up to ~176.100 meres IGLD 85. Waves overtopped breakwalls. Debris lines visible variable distance form shoreline (2 to 6 metres). Eastern beach communities of Lakeshore as well as Point Pelee Drive in Leamington were flooded.
April 13, 2020 Shoreline Winds out of the west with gusts up to 40km/hour Municipality of Leamington, Point Pelee Drive (CR 33) between Sturgeon Creek and Mersea Road 12; Town of Lakeshore, low lying beach communities east of Ruscom River to Lighthouse Cove; and

Township of Pelee, western shoreline of Pelee Island with road closures from the Ferry Ramp south.


April 14, 2020 Shoreline Persistent winds out of the west-southwest at speeds around 30 km/hr The combined effects of high water levels, seiche, and winds caused a second wave of flooding along Point Pelee Drive and direct wave impact along the western shoreline of Pelee Island. The area most impacted in Leamington is between Sturgeon Creek and Mersea Road 12.

Pelee Island maintained road closures along the West Shore Road south of the Ferry Ramp.



Residents in flood prone areas should refer to their municipalities’ website for further information on how to be prepared for a flood in their area. Additional information about preparing for flooding can be found on our website at https://essexregionconservation.ca/watershed-health/flood-forecasting/ . ERCA personnel continue to work with municipal staff to monitor water levels and critical infrastructure.

Since 1973 Essex Region Conservation has been sustaining and enriching the environment of the Windsor-Essex-Pelee Island region to ensure it is the Place for Life.

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