Little snow, little rain, low lake levels

Weather
LAKE ONTARIO FALL SHORELINE_1510716471100.jpg

SYRACUSE, NY (WSYR)- Usually in Spring, snow melts and rain is in the forecast. This year, although the snow stayed on the ground longer, there wasn’t that much snow to melt. Also this year, we haven’t had much rain and central New Yorkers are noticing the lack of water in the lakes.

We’ve been talking about it all winter, how far below average we are with snow. As of April 1st, we stand at 70”. That’s nearly 50” below our average. This is the second year in a row that we haven’t even reached 100” (our average is just about 120”).

Precipitation overall in Syracuse this year has been below average too. This time in 2020, we were above average.

We’ve been getting emails and calls of the very low levels of Oneida Lake. In early March, water levels recorded in Cleveland, NY were low and just above 368 feet. The target water level is about 370 feet and flood level is around 372.5 feet.

Ultimately, the lake levels there are controlled by the canal corporation. Typically, levels are lowered in the fall in anticipation of ice development. Lower levels help prevent property damage from the wind and ice.

March had some good warm spells, and a bit of rain at the end of the month too. This melted the ice that was on the lake and now the lake levels are in target for early Spring.

As for the much bigger lake to the north, that one is still running low.

Lake Ontario is currently more than 2 feet below average. This is great news for flooding concerns because currently, there are none.

March 31, 2021244.62 ft.
Average245.18 ft.
2019246.13 ft.
2020246.85 ft.
Max247.51 ft. (1973)
Min242.75 ft. (1935)
Lake Ontario water levels as of March 31, 2021 compared to average, previous years and maximum/minimum water levels.

The International Lake Ontario- St. Lawrence River Board projects levels to remain below average unless we have a wet spring. If we do, then we’d see similar June levels as we did in 2020.

Chart courtesy of the Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board.

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