Storm surge crashes across Haldimand

Storm surge crashes  across Haldimand
HALDIMAND—A significant storm surge swept through Haldimand County and across Ontario on Saturday, December 11, 2021. Locally, waves crashed over breakwalls and properties along Lake Erie, high winds tore down trees and disrupted power supply infrastructure, and flooding was seen along select roadways. Stronger storm surges like this could continue to increase in severity as the impacts of climate change deepen. —Photo courtesy of Ann Culp Photography.

 By Haldimand Press Staff

HALDIMAND—A flood warning was issued on Friday, December 10, 2021 in advance of an expected storm surge the following day. Saturday would see high winds and significant waves from Lake Erie, which would lead to downed trees, power outages, and flooding in various areas.

“A strong weather system brought approximately 25mm of rain, warm temperatures, and damaging winds to the Grand River watershed,” explained a release from the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA).

LOWBANKS—Wolf Starchild got up close to the crashing waves outside Hippo’s @ Mohawk Marina in Lowbanks on Saturday, December 11, 2021. He noted that the water normally rests many feet below the guard rail in the background, but it was now reaching over and flooding into parking spaces. —Photo by Tori Starchild.

Long Point Region Conservation Authority (LPRCA) said that Lake Erie flood levels reached the maximum gage elevation in Port Dover (175.5 metres) and in Port Colborne (176.4m). The water level at Port Maitland peaked at 176.2m. Waves were expected to reach up to 1.8m in the area and flooding was seen in low lying areas near Lake Erie.

Haldimand County stated during the storm that Emergency Services staff were closely monitoring conditions and roads along the lakeshore, having responded to multiple calls for help from the public. A couple thousand homes lost power Saturday in Haldimand County, with more than 100,000 homes losing power across the province as the high winds damaged infrastructure. Some areas, including the Hamilton Airport, reported wind gusts of 100km/hr or more. Port Petre and Port Colborne saw the highest peaks with wind gusts hitting 130km/hr.

DUNNVILLE—The large tree above came crashing down onto Broad Street West in Dunnville on December 11 due to the high winds. Haldimand Fire had already posted a truck to warn oncoming drivers from the east, and a second vehicle pulled up to block people from turning onto the road from George Street shortly after this photo was taken. — Haldimand Press photo by Kaitlyn Clark.

“Lake Erie static water levels are expected to remain near record highs over the coming months,” said the LPRCA release. “High static water levels increase the risk of flooding caused by moderate to severe wind-driven surges. Strong lakeshore surge events typically occur from fall through spring.”

GRCA added, “The public is advised to use extreme caution around all water bodies. Banks adjacent to rivers and creeks are very slippery at this time, and when combined with cold, fast moving water, pose a serious hazard. Parents are reminded to keep their children and pets away from all watercourses and water bodies.”