Lake reaches record level as big waves near

OLCOTT BEACH WON'T OPEN THIS SEASON

The Lake Ontario water level is now higher* than it's ever been in the 100 years of recorded lake-level history, and it's still going up.

Then it's going to go up some more.

As if to reinforce the point, another lakeshore flood watch has been issued for Sunday afternoon through Monday afternoon.

Sodus Point, other spots in Wayne County and points farther east will bear the brunt of this one. Waves of 3 to 4 feet in height, borne of west-northwest winds, are forecast to buffet the shore.

Given the water level, shoreline flooding and erosion are inevitable.

 

Yes, an asterisk* should be attached to the statement that the lake has set a new all-time high. The previous mark is an unofficial record, and isn't exactly a fixed point. The lake level from day to day can be a moving target as well. And the official record that the experts cite? It's not daily readings, it's monthly means.

But still: As of Thursday, the water in Lake Ontario was measured at 248.71 feet above sea level. At the rate it's been going up, the level Friday should come out around 248.77 feet, give or take a tad.

The unofficial daily record, according to the International Joint Commission, is 248.75, set in June 1952. Data I have show a day in that same month when 248.77 feet was measured.

No matter. If the lake didn't break the mark on Friday, it will on Saturday or Sunday. By next week, we'll clearly be in uncharted waters.

The water levels have forced one of Niagara County's most popular beaches to remain closed this season.

A Newfane Town Board Member told 2 On Your Side Friday night that Olcott Beach will not open this season.

Board Member Laura Rutland says the beach is destroyed. She says the road the maintenance trucks use to repair the beach is ruined, too. There's just too much damage to be able to save the season.

A lot of people are also dealing with major property damage. Judith Mehs went to the state's mobile command center Friday in Newfane to get help for her cottage in Yates. She lost her fourth row of trees this year because of the high water levels.

"It was slapping hard against the embankment. Harder than I ever observed. It would actually make a noise, and the water would actually spray up into your face, and I have never experienced that ever, ever," says Mehs.

The mobile command center will be back in Newfane at the Olcott Fire Company on Monday at 10 a.m.

The eleven lifeguards who spend their summers at Olcott Beach are now looking for new summer jobs, and the town is helping them with that process.

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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