Lake Ontario water levels still climbing and will stay 'very high' into summer: HCA

All of that water has led to localized flooding, shoreline erosion and partial closures along low-lying sections of the city's waterfront trails, Cootes Paradise and at Fifty Point Marina, according conservation officials.

The current water level is about 82 cm above average for this time of year

Pedestrians rest on a bench behind a fenced-off section of Hamilton's Waterfront Trail that's collapsed due to high water levels and wave damage. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

Conservation authorities in Hamilton are warning residents Lake Ontario water levels are still "significantly above normal" and say they're expected to stay that way into the summer months.

A flood outlook issued by the Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) Friday points to "record inflows" from Lake Erie and ongoing flooding in the St. Lawrence River as two factors behind the high water levels.

So far, all of that water has led to localized flooding and shoreline erosion at Cootes Paradise and Fifty Point Marina, according to the HCA. It's also caused damage and partial closures along some of the city's waterfront trails.

Parking lots and parks near the harbour are also experiencing pooling water and flooded pathways.

Rick Davidson walks through a flooded parking lot near Hamilton's harbour on May 30, 2019. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

The daily average water level for Lake Ontario is now at 75.89 metres, says the Lake Ontario – St. Lawrence River Board. That number is expected to continue to rise in the coming weeks and the HCA says they're forecast to top the record level seen in May 2017 by "a couple of centimetres."

Meanwhile, officials in Toronto announced earlier this week that the lake had hit 76.03 metres above sea level — the highest point in recorded history.

"In of itself, these peak lake levels are not expected to cause significant shoreline flooding hazards, although continued localized flooding of the areas previously mentioned is expected," stated the HCA in a media release.

Storm surge could cause hazards

That said, the HCA says serious flooding and hazards are possible in the coming weeks if "substantial storm surge and wave action occurs" — especially if the wind blows from the north, northeast or east.

The conservation authority is reminding people to be cautious near lakefront areas and says staff will continue to monitor wind conditions and lake levels closely.

The current water level is about 82 cm above average for this time of year and while they're expected to peak then decline in the next few weeks, the HCA says the water will remain "very high" well into the summer.