Great Lakes water levels are uncommonly high this spring—and still rising

High water level at Woodbine Beach

Lake Erie is known for its many shallow points, but this spring, the lake’s waters seem determined to defy their reputation. Water levels have risen several inches in the last month and are way up from the usual average for this time of year.

Erie isn’t the only Great Lake experiencing higher-than-usual water this spring. Lake Ontario is also experiencing an abundance of water, and it has led to the flooding of properties, parks, and parking lots. According to the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, the water is at the highest levels since the 1980s.

“I love living on the lake, but not in the lake,” Monroe County resident Sam Schell told the Democrat and Chronicle. His property in Greece, New York, has recently been inundated with water, as have many homes on Lake Ontario’s south-of-the-border shores.

Flooded residential area in Hilton, New York
Photo courtesy of Todd Clausen
On the American side of Lake Ontario, several residential homes have been flooded.

The high water levels are partly due to unusually high levels of rain, as well as seasonal temperatures and water-level cycles that can play out over several years. More rain is expected in the next few weeks, meaning it’s possible that flooding will continue and some parks will be closed.

High water levels can cause erosion and damage to beaches and infrastructure along shorelines.

“Boat ramps might be under water and some docks might go under water,” Eric Guerrein, president of a boat towing service in Erie, PA, told the Erie Times-News. “Roadways that are close to the edge of water may become submerged. Right now things are at a good point, but if this trend continues for the next few years it may create problems.”