Sunday, April 16, 2017

Lake Champlain In Vermont, New York and Quebec Is Approaching Flood Stage, And That's Not A Bad Thing

Record flooding on Lake Champlain in May, 2011 devastate
these camps in Colchester, Vermont. The lake is now
approaching flood stage, but the flooding won't be anything
close to the destruction of 2011.
Lake Champlain, on the Vermont, New York and Quebec is now approaching flood stage.

Given the rather rainy forecast for the next week, it will probably reach the flood stage of 100 feet above sea level in about a week or so. At least that's my guess.

Right now, it's a little over five inches below flood stage.  

Don't worry, barely above flood stage is still far below the record high of 103.27 feet above sea level on May 6, 2011. 

Three feet of water between barely flood stage and the record high level for Lake Champlain might not seem like a big difference, but it is.

Especially if you combine the record high lake level with strong winds which induce waves, you're going to get a lot of damage, like we did in 2011. 

However, if the lake is a few inches above 100 feet above sea level, as appears likely this spring, that's not so bad at all.

Sure, when the water gets this high, a few low-lying roads near the lake might flood. Perkins Pier in Burlington gets very wet underfood. And if you own a lakeshore home or camp, you might suffer some erosion damage, especially if we get some very windy days that generate big waves.

In fact, today, Sunday, the lake level is still a few inches below flood stage, but strong south winds will probably cause some splashover issues on south facing shorelines on the northern end of the lake.

However, annual minor spring flood cycles on Lake Champlain help maintain ecosystem patterns in the lake. The drawback for the ecosystem, though is some of the floods wash pollutants caused by us humans into the lake.

Once Lake Champlain starts getting above 101 feet above sea level, damage begins to get more significant.

However, so far, it looks like the lake won't get that high. True, March and April have been wetter than normal, which has raised the lake level. And more moderate rain storms seem likely this weekend, Wednesday and maybe again Friday as we remain in a relatively active weather pattern.

In 2011, we had record rainfall during the spring. In April and May combine, there was about 16.5 inches of rain in April and May, compared to a normal of a little over six inches. I'm quite sure we won't get 16.5 inches of rain in these two spring months this year.

So, high water it is on Lake Champlain this spring, but unless something extremely surprising happens there won't be a whole lot of damage.

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