County on alert as Lake Erie levels on rise
The Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services is monitoring the high levels of Lake Erie as it continues to rise.
John Griffith, Director of Emergency Services, reports that Lake Erie is at levels 30 inches above the long term average level for the month of May.
The persistent wet conditions and high stream flows this spring have resulted in a rapid rise in lake levels. As of May 14, 2019, the daily levels of Lake Superior, St. Clair, and Erie were all above their record high monthly mean levels for May.
Over the last month, Lakes Superior, Michigan-Huron, St. Clair, and Erie have risen 7 to 10 inches, while Lake Ontario has risen 23 inches. Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are 10 and 9 inches higher than they were at this time last year, respectively. Lakes St. Clair and Erie are both 6 inches higher than last year, and Lake Ontario is 17 inches higher than its level of one year ago. After the next 30 days, Lakes Superior and Michigan-Huron are forecast to be 3 inches higher, while Lake St. Clair and Erie are forecast to be within an inch of current levels. Lake Ontario is forecast to be 5 inches higher than it is currently.
“Individuals using Lake Erie should be aware of the high water levels and the possibility of limited beach and docking areas in some locations due to the high water,” said Griffith. “It is also critical that swimmers be careful as water depths much different than normal and shore undercurrents can be especially dangerous close to the lake cliffs.”
Through the New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, the Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services has moved into the County 10,000 unfilled sandbags as a precaution if Lake Erie continues to rise. There is also a sandbag filling machine being pre-deployed to Chautauqua County by New York State. The sandbags and filling machine will be stored in Dunkirk for rapid deployment if needed.
“With Memorial Day Weekend and the beginning of the summer season upon us, residents and visitors should be aware of high water levels while still enjoying all of the great activities in and around Lake Erie,” said Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello. “I thank our partners at the state for their assistance in emergency preparedness and also our Federal partners including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for monitoring the situation.”
The Chautauqua County Office of Emergency Services will continue to monitor the lake levels and shoreline. The Lake Erie Water levels are expected to remain high into the summer season as all the Great Lakes are experiencing high water levels.