Lake Ontario reaches 249 feet for first time in recorded history

Local News

Lake Ontario has reached 249 feet for the first time in recorded history.

“Unfortunately we hit 249 (feet), and we’re climbing,” said Jonathan Schultz, Director of Emergency Services for Niagara County.

The International Joint Commission, which regulates the lake’s water level, says the lake will continue rising gradually over the next several days, and likely won’t peak out for another one-to-three weeks.

Just days ago, the record for water height set during 2017’s historic flooding was matched. That year, there were localized lake readings above 249 feet in some communities, like Olcott for instance, where there was a reading of 249.2 feet. However, the lake-wide average topped out at just 248.95 feet.

On Sunset Island, in Wilson, residents are concerned about what might happen if the lake continues to rise. Sunset Island is actually a peninsula, connected to the mainland by a stone walkway which has narrowed in recent weeks.

“It is quickly going to become an island again unless the water recedes,” said resident Kevin Doherty.

Doherty, who has had a summer home on Sunset Island for the last 11 years, is concerned the stone may wash away. If that happens, the only way to access his home would be by boat.

A lakeshore flood warning is in effect until Tuesday at 8 a.m. Schultz said fortunately, with some exceptions, things are under control.

“So far we’ve been lucky,” Schultz said. “The majority of the winds today have been out of the west. We still have heavy wave action. As long as the winds stay out of the west, we’ll be good.”

See how residents along the shoreline are dealing with flooding here.

4 WARN FORECAST | Keep an eye on our 4 Warn Forecast here.

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