ERCA Watershed Conditions February 25 2020
The Essex Region Conservation Authority advises that, due to the current elevated lake levels and forecasted winds over the next 4 days, a Watershed Conditions Statement is in effect until 12:00 pm (noon), Friday February 28th, 2020.
Lake levels are currently elevated as compared to 2019 levels at this same time. Preliminary coordinated monthly average lake levels for Lake St. Clair and Lake Erie for the month of February are approximately 390 mm (~ 16 inches) and 290 mm (~ 12 inches) above the coordinated monthly averages from 2019. By comparison, these water levels roughly equate to levels reached back in early May 2019 as we begin to enter our seasonal rise.
In addition to the elevated lake levels, a low pressure system is tracking easterly south of Lake Erie causing some winds out of the northeast starting early Tuesday morning.
Forecasts are showing winds increasing up to approximately 30 km/hr out of the northeast and east-northeast directions with gust between 40 and 50 km/hr. These conditions are forecasted to remain until Wednesday February 26th.
The forecasted winds out of the northeast along with the elevated lake levels are just below “Flood Watch” thresholds; however, these conditions bring an increased risk of flooding and nearshore erosion as a result of increased wave activity, waves overtopping low/damaged breakwalls, and splashing and spray. Waves can also carry debris such as ice that may be deposited and/or thrown onto shoreline areas. Should conditions worsen beyond those forecasted, the areas that may be impacted by the northeast and east-northeast winds include:
– Lake St. Clair shoreline between Windsor and Belle River;
– The Detroit River shoreline; and
– The Lake Erie shoreline including Pelee Island.
The area that could be most impacted by waves should there be significant wave activity would be the Lake St. Clair shoreline as described above, as well as the shoreline area between Wheatley Harbour and Point Pelee National Park in the Municipality of Leamington.
Watershed Conditions Statement
The long range forecast shows this low pressure system continuing east of our region, forcing winds to shift out of the northwest by late Wednesday night and eventually out of the west. As this happens, long range forecasts are suggesting winds to be above 40 km/hr with gusts well above 60 km/hr. These conditions could be present for as long as the afternoon of February 28th. Long range forecasts are typically less reliable and therefore updates from our office will reflect those changing conditions should it be required.
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.
Due to elevated lake levels, 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 City of Windsor should continue to monitor water levels along the flood control dykes within the Little River Drain corridor.
Officials at the Essex Region Conservation Authority will continue to monitor conditions and weather forecasts and advise accordingly.