Flood Messaging updated to adapt to ongoing challenges

Wednesday, October 14, 2020


Windsor/Essex –  Flood Forecasting and warning is one of the top priorities for ERCA and other Conservation Authorities across the province of Ontario.

To ensure that flood messages use consistent terminology across Ontario, standard message types, descriptions, and graphics were established many years ago. These included:


  • Flood Warning: flooding is imminent or already occurring
  • Flood Watch: there is the potential for flooding
  • Watershed Conditions Statements: flood outlook (an early notice of the potential for flooding based on heavy rain, snow melt etc.) and water safety information.

Over the last several years, record-high water levels on the Great Lakes have posed new challenges for the flood forecasting community, including applying standard flood message types to the Great Lakes shoreline areas. The existing options and terminology did not adequately distinguish between shoreline risks and inland/riverine risks, nor did it enable a clear mechanism to combine two different types of flood advisory message at the same time; something that is often an occurrence through spring and fall with high lake levels and intense rainfall.

To address this gap, Ontario flood messages are being updated to reflect the addition of a Shoreline Conditions Statement. The Shoreline Conditions Statement is an adaptation of the lowest severity message (Watershed Conditions Statement) for application on the Great Lakes and is specific to shorelines. A shoreline conditions statement is defined as a flood outlook (an early notice of the potential for flooding on the Great Lakes based on weather and lake conditions) and water safety information.

“Clarity and consistency are critically important when it comes to issuing flood messaging across the Province,” said James Bryant, Water Resources Engineer. “The addition of a Shoreline Conditions Statement as a flood message option will help improve clarity for the municipalities we serve.”

Since 1973, Essex Region Conservation has been enriching and sustaining the Windsor-Essex region as the Place for Life.

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