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Risk of damaging flooding along Lake Ontario has been downgraded to 'low'

International Joint Commission says high outflows continue
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Posted at 8:30 AM, Mar 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-03 08:31:43-05

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The risk of flooding on Lake Ontario and the upper St. Lawrence River has declined from 'moderate' in December 2020 to 'low.'

According to a new report the International Joint Commission's International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board released Monday, that risk dropped had to just 8%. Risk analysis in December found that the chances water levels would exceed the threshold at which damage would occur in shoreline communities was at 28%.

The board said the risk reduction largely resulted from dry conditions in the Great Lakes Basin through the first two months of 2021. Lake Ontario water levels dropped a total of about six inches (15 centimeters) in that time, and are currently 4.3 inches (11 centimeters) below long-term average levels for this time of year. The water levels on Ontario are also nearly two feet below what they were one year ago, the lowest in the last six years.

Because of the lower levels, the IJC is reducing the outflow from Lake Ontario to 'high' from 'very high.'

The board said the risk of high water on Lake Ontario remains a low possibility this year and is much lower than the risk was at this time last year. They plan to meet regularly throughout the spring as seasonal conditions change.

Exactly one year ago, the IJC received a $3 million boost to help improve outflows from Lake Ontario as flood concerns rose with high water levels along the lake.