First Alert Weather In-Depth: Lake Ontario’s effect on our weather

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Obviously, Lake Ontario is called a lake, but quite often it acts more like an ocean, especially when the winds pick up.

Let’s take a look at some of the numbers that focus on Lake Ontario and the lake level has come up significantly. This is an area of big concern. This shows the latest lake level is now at over 246 feet. And if we do a comparison, that is actually 20 inches higher than it was at this point last year. In addition, at this point in the season, it is 7 inches higher than the long-term average. The forecast shows the projection, if we get a normal amount of rainfall going through the spring, we could easily get another 6 inches higher.

These current lake levels make for an interesting comparison to the highest lake levels in recent history. When you go back to 2017 the lake level was 248.72 feet and the current water level is 2 feet above that record. And if you go back to 2019 (another significant year for flooding) that water level was 2 feet above the current level. That sounds good, but there is still some concern because of the variables as we go into the future. Number one, the amount of possible rainfall going through the spring and early summer season. Number two, the incoming water from Lake Erie. This is the system that is feeding into lake Ontario. And Number three, the St. Lawrence River outflow and how quickly can we push some of that water out from the lake.

All of this adds up to some really big questions and it may come down to flood mitigation as we go forward in time.