Governor Cuomo urges boaters to stay off Lake Ontario

Campers at Brennan Beach watch high waves soak campsites

ALBANY, NY - Charles Bailey says he's never seen waves cause so much damage at Brennan Beach - and he's been camping there for more than 30 years.

"It's flooding out the sites. I mean, we have waves now coming up over the rock wall and the water is running all the way to the back of our site, the full length of our trailer and washing out the road once again. They've closed the road down. So, we'd have to get out on foot if we were going to leave our trailer. We can't drive out," Bailey says.

Between high water levels, shore erosion, and wind that stirs up the waves, it's been a tough summer for campers along Lake Ontario.

Now, Governor Andrew Cuomo is urging boaters to heed a Small Craft Advisory and stay off the water due to dangerous conditions on Lake Ontario, Lake Erie and the St. Lawrence River.

Wind conditions are producing waves of four feet or more and building to five to nine feet throughout the day. Waves later today and tonight could reach up to 11 feet from Sodus Bay eastward on Lake Ontario.

Conditions, especially for inexperienced mariners and those operating smaller vessels, are dangerous. A Small Craft Advisory is issued when wind speeds of 18 to 33 knots are expected and waves of four feet our more exist that could be hazardous to boats and watercrafts.

"Any experienced boater will tell you to check conditions before you set out on the water. Lake Ontario and Lake Erie are experiencing large and dangerous waves which could put boaters, and those who have to rescue them at risk," Governor Cuomo said. "Stay safe by staying off the waters today for the safety of yourself and our first responders who have to operate during dangerous conditions."

Small Craft Advisories remain in effect for the following areas:
Upper Niagara River and Buffalo Harbor until 8 p.m. tonight
Saint Lawrence River From Cape Vincent to Ogdensburg until 10 p.m. tonight
Saint Lawrence Rover from Ogdensburg to St. Regis until 10 p.m. tonight
Lake Ontario nearshore waters from Hamlin Beach to Sodus Bay until 6 a.m. Sunday
Lake Ontario nearshore from Sodus Bay to Mexico Bay until 6 a.m. Sunday
Lake Ontario nearshore waters from Mexico Bay to the Saint Lawrence River  until 6 a.m. Sunday
Lake Erie nearshore waters from Ripley to Dunkirk until midnight tonight
Lake Erie nearshore waters from Dunkirk to Buffalo until midnight tonight
Lake Ontario nearshore waters from the Niagara River to Hamlin Beach until midnight tonight

On Friday, Governor Cuomo directed state agencies to deploy additional resources to assist local communities ahead of severe weekend storms across the state. Assets and personnel are being pre-deployed to potentially impacted regions, including Western New York and the North Country, as a strong cold front moves across the state beginning this afternoon and evening, triggering rain and thunderstorms that could produce strong winds and hail.

At the Governor's direction, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul and senior officials from state agencies were deployed to Regional Emergency Operations Centers, which are activated in Watertown in Jefferson County and in Cheektowaga in Erie County. In addition, 100 National Guard members have been deployed to the potentially impacted regions to assist local communities with response and recovery.

Lakeshore flooding and erosion is expected for the entire Lake Ontario lakeshore due to substantial wave action, and heavy downpours could also lead to flooding in low lying and poor drainage areas. These strong to severe storms will continue into early tomorrow.

The Western New York, Finger Lakes, Central New York, Southern Tier and North Country Regions will experience the heaviest of the rainfall. While Lake Ontario has decreased six inches from its highest levels, it is still 29 inches higher than the same time last year and 18 inches above average for this time of year, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers.

The Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services' Office of Emergency Management has been in constant communication with county emergency management officials in the region and the State Emergency Operations Center is operating at a Level 4 activation, which includes enhanced monitoring by NYS OEM personnel. Additional assets are readily available at strategically located stockpiles across potentially impacted regions statewide.

In addition, assets have been pre-deployed in the North County and in Western New York in advance of the storms.

In Western New York, assets and personnel include:
25 National Guard Troops with Humvees
1 DHSES Truck with pumps, hoses and lengths of Aqua Dam
2 DHSES High Axle Vehicles
2 DHSES/OFPC Rescue Boats with OFPC Personnel
Additional OEM Personnel

Resources and personnel in the North County include:
25 National Guard Troops with Humvees
1 DHSES Truck with pumps, hoses and lengths of Aqua Dam
1 DHSES High Axle Vehicles
Additional OEM Personnel

There are also an additional 50 National Guard Troops in Niagara and Monroe Counties on standby to respond to severe weather in impacted communities.

Additionally, New York State Parks continues to actively monitor the weather situation and has directed the Park Police and park personnel to take appropriate action to prepare for possible flooding at State Park facilities including clearing culverts and drainage areas and preparing equipment that may be necessary to respond to flood-related issues.

All State Police assets, including 4x4s, high axle vehicles and boats, are ready for deployment as needed. Troopers have been instructed to remain on high alert and to closely monitor flood prone areas for rising waters while on patrol.

The New York State Department of Transportation is actively preparing for high water by readying equipment and staff who will conduct flood watches, monitor bridges as water rises, and respond as needed. DOT crews have been actively working to clear culverts and drainage basins to help ensure they flow freely.

The New York State Thruway Authority is monitoring for potential flooding the region and are ready to deploy additional staffing and equipment to assist with any flooding issues as they develop.

Earlier this week, Governor Cuomo authorized the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to extend the 5 mile per hour boating speed limit on Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River through Saturday, September 2. Vessels operating within 600 feet of shore must observe the 5 mile per hour speed limit to reduce impacts to shoreline residences and infrastructure caused by wave action and to promote safe boating, as many hidden hazards and debris have been covered by elevated water levels and can threaten boaters. Local municipalities may issue tickets carrying fines of up to $250 per infraction to recreational boaters violating the 5 mph speed limit within 600 feet of shore.

The best way to receive official emergency information, which can change quickly, is to subscribe to NY-ALERT ( the state's free, customizable, all-hazards notification system.

Safety tips for staying safe before, during, and after floods and other storms can be found on the DHSES website:


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