Flood Update in Muskoka
April 29th, 2013
Rescuing the Canoe from the Flooded Boathouse
A contact at the Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) said that the flooding to our Muskoka lakes this year was caused by the “perfect storm” of both branches of the Muskoka River having their peak run-off converging at the same time, whereas they are usually staggered. That combination made the flood waters flow right over the top of the dam in Bracebridge. This flood was started by a combination of the unusually heavy rains we had, combined with the faster than usual snowmelt that the warm temperatures and torrential rain created.
The water levels in Lake Muskoka got to more than 70cm above mid-summer conditions and 50cm above average spring conditions. This is the highest they have seen water levels in this lake since they started recording about 80 yrs ago.
The greatest damage to property was along the Muskoka River, as that is where the flooding was deepest.
During flood conditions boaters on the lakes must remember to not create any wakes close to shore, as so many valuable water craft are in delicate situations inside boathouses, and the shoreline itself is in a delicate position. Many boats are on boat lifts but the water has raised them up a bit, so that the wake from a fast passing boat will make them bang up and down on the lift, potentially causing serious and costly damage. Heavy boat wake can also move the contents of the boathouses, or the docks, around causing more property to be lost or damaged.
The wake from a fast moving boat is especially hard on the shorelines at a time of flooding such as this, as the waves are hitting in a spot that is not prepared to hold back the water , and the water can easily dig the soil and plants away. Numerous pines trees have become dislodged and other costly landscaping has been ruined close to the Falls at Bracebridge, and all along the river.
Some cottagers have had to put sandbags around their places to stop the rising water from entering their cottage basement. Boat wake makes the water splash up over the sand bags and allows it to get into the cottage.
One friend told us that if the water goes much higher he will need to take the windshield off his boat so it doesn’t bang on the ceiling of the boathouse. The problem is that the water is too high to be able to get the boats out of the boathouses, and so the rising water is floating the boats up closer to the ceilings of the structures.
The ships from the Muskoka fleet are also in danger during high water events. Their boat fenders are useless when the water is high.
Many properties on both the river and the lake have lost their docks. The water pressure pushing upward is popping dock tops right off the cribs, and sometimes floating them right away. There will be a lot of construction happening around Muskoka this year to clean the mess created by this flood.
The last ‘record flood’ was in 2008, and this current flood of 2013 is several inches higher than the last one was. Looks like climate change may make flooding a more regular event than we would like it to be.
Evaluate your property and your routines to see how you can be better prepared for the next flood. Might it be a good plan to put numerous large barrels of water, with a concrete block inside, on spacious docks to give them some additional weight to try to keep them down, as the rising flood water are trying to force them up?
Perhaps nothing should be stored within 3 feet of the floor in your boathouse, and dock boxes should be moved off the dock for the winter and spring seasons.
Perhaps keeping a key in a lockbox, on site, would enable friends or neighbours to more easily check on your cottage or boathouse for you. Many cottagers had no way to let a volunteer into their boathouse to get the doors up or the hydro, off as this flood started.
Best wishes that your Muskoka property survived this trial well
Higher Water-Consider Turning Your Hydro off in Your Boathouses
April 23rd, 2013
Lake Muskoka is up more than 5 inches since yesterday
We were hoping that the flood waters in Muskoka would begin to subside today, but that is not to be, for awhile.
Flooding is a major problem across Muskoka where the rivers are. Low lying roads close to the rivers are closed, and many people are trapped in their cottage/home or else they cannot get to their cottage/home, especially on the Bracebridge area.
The Muskoka homes/cottages on lakes Muskoka, Rosseau and Joseph have generally not been affected as badly as the river properties, but it would still be a good idea to have your property checked.
By Sunday past, docks on the lake that are built a bit low were covered with water, but most newer docks still had their tops out of the water. By today, Tuesday, most docks on Lake Muskoka are underwater, as we seem to have about 5-8 inches more water in this lake.
Our dock is a bit on the low side, and so we had to turn the hydro off to our boathouse today, as the water level is getting dangerously close to the height of the electrical outlets. Even a small wave could put the water up over the electrical outlets.
We found that some of the light planters stored inside the boathouse had tipped over and were floating out the boathouse door today, so we had to go back in and secure all the outdoor things that we store in the boathouse for the winter.
We advise you to have someone check on your cottage, and your boathouse, even if you have never had your docks under water in the past. This flooding is much higher than the Muskoka flood in 2008. If you have standing shelves in your boathouse, you may need to have the things removed from the lower shelves and stored at a higher level, or you may lose them.
Frequently canoes and kayaks are stored on the boathouse floor or leaned against the wall. You may find that the volume of water inside the boathouse is tipping things like that over, and they may be floating freely at this point.
Best plan is to have your place checked
Hope all is well at your cottage.
The Water in Lake Muskoka is Rising Rapidly
April 20th, 2013
The Water is Up Six Inches Overnight
With the heavy rains all week the water in Lake Muskoka is rising rapidly. At our place it seems to be up more than a foot this week, with about 6 inches of that being overnight last night.
There is flooding all over Muskoka, particularly in the Bracebridge area, as all the lakes to the north, such as Lake of Bays, Mary Lake, and the Huntsville Lakes, are emptying in to Lake Muskoka through the Muskoka river, and flowing out through the falls at Bala, down the Moon River to Georgian Bay.
We figure that the water will be up over the floor boards in our boathouse later today if this continues.
In 2008 the water rose so high that ducks were swimming into our boathouse through the mandoor, and John could canoe over all the lawns at Indianhead Marina. Luckily for us, our cottage sits nice and high on this level lot, and so there was never a concern about water coming into the cottage.
As well as having heavay rains, there have been very high winds which served to take the rest of the ice out of the lake. Unfortunately for the boaters who wanted to get out to the islands from Indianhead Marina, as is the custom, the ice blew down the lake into Boyd Bay and has clogged the area in front of the marina.
Yesterday a barge tried for more than an hour to wend its way through the ice flows to get out to the mian lake, which was open, but kept getting trapped behind ice flows and finally had to give up and retreat back into the marina.
With the high wind it is a chilly day out there today. Good time to hunker down in front of a fire and get some paperwork done.
Lots of Flooded Roads in Muskoka
April 19th, 2013
Beavers are Out and Busy
For anyone travelling today, particularly the back roads or around rivers, swamps and streams, be careful.
There are at least 7 road closures in Muskoka due to flooding.
Any areas that have low lying land will be flooded. The rains were quite torrential a lot of the day yesterday, and the water levels rose significantly.
Stay safe everyone.
Ice is Out is Most Parts of the Lakes
April 19th, 2013
Ice on Thursday
The ice is gone in many sections of the lakes. However there are a few parts where there are still large frozen sections out in the middle.
Boats seem to be able to skirt around those sections and can run freely along the shorelines to get wherre they are going.
If it stay mild today, or rains again, all the ice might be gone by Saturday.
Contractors have been eager to get out on the water and get busy with their island projects again.
It is good to see the boats on the lakes again.
A Boat Went Into the Water at Indianhead Marina Today
April 18th, 2013
A overly zealous boater put a boat into the water at Indianhead Marina today in anticipation of the ice going out of the lake soon. He has only about 200 feet of open water right now, but I suppose he is hopnig that with this mild weather and the heavy rains, he will be able to get out to one of the islands for the weekend.
When there is still lots of ice in the main lake, it is usually possible to boat to Pine, Birch, Wilson, Eileen Gown and Browning Islands, out of Indianhead Marina or from the George Road docks.
It has been a long cold winter and cottagers are eager to get back on the water again. We are really looking forward to seeing boats come and go very soon.
Hardy Muskoka Islanders
January 1st, 2012
In Muskoka, Islanders are a tough and devoted lot. Many love to be at the cottage as much as possible and do not let ice, hail, sleet, or snow stop them.
Boating to a party on New Year’s Eve on Lake Muskoka can be considered to be great fun.
Muskoka Has Ice
December 29th, 2011
Minus 20 temperatures overnight December 29th has provided ice coverage on parts of the Muskoka Lakes.
It has been very mild and rainy, but the cold temperatures overnight has started the ice build-up.
Without ice, a lot of Muskoka’s recreational activitites are on hold, so let’s hope for more cold temperatures, with no snow, while the ice builds. (The snow forms a blanket and stops the ice from building well, making it soggy and wet.)