Strong winds gusting up to 75 km/h could cause flooding along the Lake Erie shoreline in Chatham-Kent, according to the Lower Thames Valley Conservation Authority.

Environment Canada has issued a gale warning for the western portion of the lake, and waves could top three to four metres in the afternoon.

"Lake levels have been up," said Jason Wintermute, water management supervisor with the LTVCA. "That has affected the ability to cause flooding on the lake shoreline because if the water starts at a higher level then it doesn't take as big of a wave to cause flooding"

Wintermute said that water levels tend to ebb and flow as the season goes on, but this year lake levels have remained high. It was a similar situation in the 1990s.

"Back in the 90s, we would need 50 - 60 km/h sustained winds to cause the flooding," Wintermute explained. "We now only need 35 km/h winds to cause flooding. And that 35 km/hr wind is pretty easy to attain in the fall."

Wintermute said residents on the shoreline should keep their properties clear of debris that could blow into the lake. 

"Some of these flooding events have been aggravated because the catch basins that should drain the water away are getting plugged," he said, adding that falling leaves and branches add to the problem.

Residents are warned to stay back from the shoreline even when winds do recede, because sections of road or sidewalk could have been washed away underneath.