Lake Erie washes into Long Point

This was the scene April 26 at the Old Cut Boat Livery in Long Point. It has become easier for Lake Erie to overflow in shoreline areas of Norfolk County now that water levels are at near record highs. Photo courtesy Ray Ferris

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While many communities in Ontario and eastern Canada cope with rising flood waters related to the winter thaw and spring rains, shoreline areas of Norfolk County are menaced by the effects of turbulent winds on Lake Erie.

High winds may have been a factor last Friday as Lake Erie came ashore in Long Point and temporarily flooded the Long Point Causeway near the turnoff to Hastings Drive and Erie Boulevard.

Water levels were quite high over the noon hour in the area of Sandboy Marina and Trailer Park, Marina Shores and the Old Cut Marina.

Long Point resident Stu Ross took a drive around the community and suggested the weather may have sent a surge into Long Point.

Ross described it as “a bath tub effect” where water in a basin sloshes back and forth until the energy that moved it disperses.

By time Ross got to the causeway and the marinas, the water over the road had subsided.

That tells him “it’s pretty obvious it’s a bath tub effect.” As an indication of where Lake Erie is at the moment, Ross noted that the water was right up to the lip of the boat ramps at the marinas in question.

It doesn’t take much to bring Lake Erie inland these days now that the water is at near record levels.

Ross and Long Point resident John Henderson agree Lake Erie isn’t as high as it was in the mid-1980s.

That’s when a fierce winter storm wiped out dozens of cottages in Long Point. The former Haldimand-Norfolk Region responded by declaring Hastings Drive – the neighbourhood hardest hit – as a hazard land area.

However, Ross and Henderson agree the lake is approaching its peak of 34 years ago.

Henderson put the April 26 flooding down to a “seiche wave.” This is the technical term for the bath-tub effect Ross describes.

“Got down a bit ago. No more water on the main roads or at Old Cut by Chip Ship,” Henderson reported Friday afternoon. “Again, not crazy winds. May have been a seiche wave from somewhere. We do see them from time to time.”

Henderson added “The wind isn’t crazy so I would think this is the new norm until the lakes start to go down. We’re almost at the 1986 record level.”

Not long ago, there was ample beach between Woodstock Avenue and the Lake Erie shoreline in Long Point. Today, much of that beach has disappeared as the lake laps up against breakwalls, armour stone and decks at the rear of cottage properties.

Port Rowan Coun. Tom Masschaele spoke to a Woodstock Avenue property owner this week who noted that the high water levels reported last year have returned in 2019.

“I’ve heard from a number of residents in recent days that the lake level keeps on rising,” Masschaele said. “We got a flood advisory from the Long Point Region Conservation Authority Thursday and I wouldn’t be surprised if I find another in my inbox.”