Forecasters say Lake Ontario water levels are likely to remain stagnant over the coming month and possibly through much of the winter in 2020.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Friday reported the lake is likely to drop 1 inch by Dec. 29, which would keep the water level at about 246 feet and 18 inches above the long-term average for this time of year.
The International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board, which sets lake outflows, has an updated six-month forecast that predicts water levels staying relatively constant until mid-March. The board forecasts water levels will rise about one foot from mid-March until mid-May.
However, the forecast also includes the possibility of much higher or lower water. The board forecasts a roughly five percent change that water levels will exceed 249 feet early next June, breaking the record set this past June, and a five percent chance the lake will fall to 245.5 feet by late spring.
Several local politicians and shoreline landowner groups have urged the International Joint Commission to increase outflows in an order to reduce the possibility of severe flooding next spring and summer.
Last month, the state Department of Environmental Conservation initiated a lawsuit against the IJC, alleging the commission failed to respond adequately to the high water conditions this year.
And last week, Sen. Chuck Schumer asked the St. Lawrence Seaway's U.S. and Candian directors to implement safety precautions that would allow the IJC to increase outflows. He said those precautions include speed controls in sections of the Seaway, a prohibition on meeting or passing vessels in certain areas and positioning a tug boat at some locks to assist vessels if needed.
The IJC has set what it calls the highest outflows possible without creating unsafe conditions for commercial navigation.