Great Lakes Water Levels Rising Due to Rainfall

11:44 PM, Jun 11, 2013   |    comments
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BUFFALO, NY - Western New York has been getting some changing weather the past few weeks.

Some of it has been nice. A lot of it has been rain.

And all the rain added up is helping boaters and those who rely on our Great Lakes everyday.

"We've had some pretty good rainfall over all the Great Lakes over the last couple of weeks," said George Cotroneo, chief of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Buffalo division.

And so far this month, Buffalo's gotten 3.8 inches of rainfall. In the month of June, that's 2.5 inches above average.

"With that are the forecast precipitation, it's a good chance that Lake Ontario will be at average by the end of this month and probably a few inches above the long-term average for the rest of the summer," said Cotroneo.

That's good for recreational boaters and cargo ships making deliveries that traditionally have had to navigate low water levels in the lakes.

So, how much have the lakes risen?  

The Army Corps of Engineers says Lake Erie is about five inches above where it was last month and Lake Ontario is about 2.5 inches where it was in May.

Floyd Zabron of Orchard Park is setting up his dock on the Erie Basin Marina, so he can bring his sailboat in this week and then take it out on the lake.

"We've been here for 20 some years if not longer," he said.

The rising water in Lake Erie will be critical for him and his boat when it arrives.

"Yes, the severity of it right now, I think is fine, if we continue to decrease, like if they pull water off to feed the hydro generation then that will become a problem here also," Zabron said.

And it can be especially rough here when the winds are strong and the water is low.

"And if you couple that with an east wind, they become severely low and provide difficulty for people getting on their boats," he said.

Still folks on water, especially in Lake Erie need to watch out for those shallow waters. Because according to experts, the water here should be six to eight inches higher than it is now. And the only thing that can help is more rain.

And higher water levels has an economic impact.


Western New York relies on a million tons of freight each year that's made up of coal, limestone and cement.

The Buffalo International Shipmasters says for every inch the water rises most cargo ships can add 100 tons of freight.

And this does attract businesses locally to demand these materials more when the water is higher.

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