Flooding in Ontario, Quebec, and Upstate New York May 2017

Flooding in Central Canada and Upstate New York / Lower Great Lakes Ontario Quebec Toronto Montreal

High water levels in the lower Great Lakes watershed have led to flooding and flood warnings in Central Canada (Ontario and Quebec) and Upstate New York in late April and early May 2017.

The Great Lakes watershed in the eastern part of North America, along the border between the United States and Canada. The watershed is made up of a series of big lakes (Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario) and some rivers (Ottawa, Saguenay, etc.) that flow into the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

The water from the lakes flow into each other. Lake Superior and Michigan flow into Huron, which flows into Erie, which flows into Lake Ontario (through the Niagara River and the Niagara Falls).

Water levels have been unusually high in Lake Ontario, and on the Ottawa and St. Lawrence rivers for the last few weeks. This has been partly because of lots of water flowing from upstream. Lots of rain in southern Ontario has contributed to the problem. In 2013 Toronto and other parts of southern Ontario suffered flooding because of heavy rain. This year (2017) there hasn’t been as much rain falling in a short period of time. But there has been a lot of rain over a few days, leaving soil saturated, so that the additional rain runs straight into rivers and creeks. This water then flows into Lake Ontario, the Ottawa River and the St. Lawrence River, contributing to high water and flooding near to the banks of the lake and the rivers.

High water levels and waves in Lake Ontario have caused flooding in parts of Upstate New York, and southern Ontario, including in Hamilton, on the Toronto Islands, and in Downtown Toronto. There has also been flooding on the Ottawa River, near to Ottawa (Canada’s capital) and its suburbs of Hull and Gatineau. There has also been flooding on the St. Lawrence River in Canada’s second biggest city, Montreal, in the province of Quebec. Authorities have been using sandbags to try to stop the water. In Toronto the rain has led to the cancellation of flights at Pearson International Airport in Mississauga, and a swollen Don River has threatened to overflow onto the Don Valley Parkway highway and GO Train rail lines.