WXXI AM News

Flood concerns persist despite dry weather

May 15, 2017

Even though there is no rain in the forecast for most of the week, there are still worries about flooding as Lake Ontario remains at historically high levels.

"I have been in and around the town of Penfield for 42 years and I have to tell you, I have never seen it this high," said Penfield town supervisor Tony LaFountain.

A state of emergency is in effect in the towns of Irondequoit, Penfield, and Webster due to concerns about potential flooding on Empire Boulevard along Irondequoit Bay. Businesses in the area have flooded parking lots and LaFountain said Empire Boulevard will be closed to traffic if the water reaches the roadway.

"It impacts those residents who live along the area, and certainly the businesses could see an impact as well. If we could remain at current conditions and weather this, and let things start to recede, it could be a win-win for everyone."

The New York State Department of Transportation, working in conjunction with the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, will determine when and if Empire Boulevard will be closed.

The state of emergency means boaters on Irondequoit Bay must travel at idle speeds within 500 feet of the shoreline. Beyond that distance, vessels may not travel more than 5 miles per hour.

LaFountain said the emergency order will remain in effect for 30 days or until lake levels start to recede.

Area creeks are also running high, which means there are still some soggy conditions in Ellison Park.

"It may be some time before the ball fields will be able to be used, but the dog park is open and other portions of the park are still open,” LaFountain said. “But that seems to be almost a day by day, week by week scenario depending on overall conditions."

The National Weather Service posted a lakeshore flood warning for Wayne County until 2 p.m. Monday, with northwest winds expected to send waves crashing over lakefront property.  As of Sunday, the water level on Lake Ontario was at 248.82 feet, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  That is a record high, exceeding the previous record of 248.75 feet, set in 1952.