Why is Lake Ontario’s water level the only Great Lake below normal, and what’s the IJC’s involvement in controlling the Great Lakes levels??

Summer Outlook 2021

There were so many days of lakeshore flooding on Lake Ontario the past few years, but thankfully Lake Ontario shoreline property owners are not dealing with any flooding this year thanks to Mother Nature!

After having the driest year in the Lake Ontario basin since the records have been kept by NOAA going all the way back to 1950, Lake Ontario has dropped two feet over the past year! All of the other Great Lakes have dropped significantly too, but not as much as Lake Ontario. Over the past year, Lake Superior has dropped 5″, Lake Michigan and Huron have experienced a 15″ drop, Lake Erie has dropped 13″, and as Lake Ontario has gone down 24″ the past twelve months!

Storm Team meteorologist John DiPasquale asked Bryce Carmichael, The U.S. Secretary to the International Lake Ontario/St. Lawrence River Board, why has Lake Ontario fallen off so much more than the other Great Lakes? Below is his answer:

With the below normal levels on Lake Ontario is that causing issues for the summer boating/water enthusiasts? Plus are there any ecosystem issues with the fluctuating water levels, and what kind of control does the International Joint Commission (IJC) have over the Great Lake water levels?? Bryce answers those questions below…

Other than Lake Ontario, despite all the lakes coming down significantly the past year, the rest of the Great Lakes are still running above average by nearly half a foot to a foot and a half for this time of year.

Could the higher water levels on the Great Lakes upstream of Lake Ontario result in a more significant rise in Lake Ontario over the coming months?

Did the IJC and Army Corps of Engineers play any role in the lowering of the Lake Ontario levels over the past year?

According to Bryce, the biggest deviation (change) that he recalls in outflow that the IJC has signed off on was back in 2019 when nearly 10″ of water was released out of Lake Ontario into the St. Lawrence River to try to ease the historic lakeshore flooding that took place back in 2019. Lake Ontario reached its all-time peak water level in June of 2019 when the lake level reached nearly 249 feet above sea level compared to the latest recorded level of about 245 feet this month!

Thankfully, the concern for any lakeshore flooding around Lake Ontario this year is nearly non-existent due to the below average water levels and dry year so far. Good news for sure!

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