Lake of the Woods approaches crest of 2nd-worst flood on record

The worst may be over for the flooding on Lake of the Woods.

The Lake of the Woods Control Board says the large lake straddling the Ontario, Minnesota and Manitoba borders appears to be at or near a crest after rising to its highest level since the record flood of 1950.

“Should weather be favourable, the lake level may be near a peak. However, a return to normal summer levels will likely take many weeks,” the control board said in a Wednesday bulletin.

“A return to wet weather could result in a second, higher peak.” 

As of Wednesday, Lake of the Woods had risen to 1,063.1 feet above sea level, which is about three feet above the average lake level for this time of year. 

The record high-water mark in 1950 was 1,064 feet above sea level. The control board, which regulates lake levels, was established in 1919.

The flooding at Lake of the Woods, the 30th-largest freshwater lake on the planet by area, has submerged docks and boathouses, prompted evacuations in Kenora and raised the erosion risk along the grassy southwestern shore in Minnesota.

The water is still rising on Lake Winnipeg, the world’s 10th-largest freshwater lake. As of Wednesday, it had risen to 716.6 feet above sea level, which is 1.6 feet higher than the top of its recommended operating range and 3.6 feet higher than it was this day last year.

Manitoba Hydro, which uses the lake as a reservoir, is required to let as much water as possible out of the lake once it reaches 715 feet above sea level.

Nonetheless, Hydro expects the water level on Lake Winnipeg to rise to  717.1 feet above sea level by June 30. The Crown corporation has not predicted a lake level for a crest expected in July.

The highest level recorded on the lake, not including wind effects, was 718.2 feet during the record flood of 1974.

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