Surface Water Monitoring Centre
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What we do
The Surface Water Monitoring Centre is part of a broader Early Warning System.
We monitor and collect data, as well as analyze and forecast water levels for dissemination of timely messages to our partners.
- water level data (hydrometric data)
- weather data (meteorological)
- ministry weather forecasts
- snow data
- river ice coverage data
Analyze and forecast
Example of tools
- Antecedent Precipitation Index
:a tool that predicts flood potential for rivers and lakes by determining moisture stored in the soil of a drainage basin and potential water runoff.
- Great Lakes Storm Surge Operation System: software that tracks water levels, wave height, direction and peak wave height on the Great Lakes. The system generates graphs, charts and animations to help predict expected conditions.
- Ice monitoring tools: satellite imagery that monitors ice breakup of the 5 largest rivers draining into James Bay and Hudson Bay. We use ice monitoring data, camera images and water level measurements to advise emergency responders of flood potential.
Flood forecasting and warning program
Flooding in Ontario is caused by extreme rain, rapid snowmelt, lake/storm surge or ice jams.
Flood message definitions
- Watershed conditions statement – flood outlook: gives early notice of flooding based on weather forecasts calling for heavy rain, snow melt, high winds or other conditions
- Watershed conditions statement – water safety: indicates that high flows, melting ice or other factors could be dangerous for boaters, anglers and swimmers. However, flooding is not expected.
- Flood watch: indicates there is the potential for flooding
- Flood warning: indicates flooding is imminent or occurring
Low water response program
Ontario’s Low Water Response Program ensures provincial and local authorities are prepared in the event of low water conditions.
Low water or drought is slow to occur and is caused by:
- lack of rain
- high temperatures
- increased demand for water
Climate change may exacerbate the effects of these factors.
Current conditions map
Low water or drought in Ontario.
Low water definitions
- Low Water Level 1: early indication of a potential drought condition.
- Low Water Level 2: increased likelihood of drought conditions.
- Low Water Level 3: high likelihood of drought conditions (does not imply an emergency).
Learn, prepare and act
Flood and low water data
Water Managers or Agencies can get access to all the water management data and details of Ontario’s flood and low water research and reports.