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    Ken Clark

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    Lake Mead Now to Stay Above Critical Low Levels

    August 14, 2014; 1:19 PM ET

    Lake Mead is at all-time record-low levels since it was filled back in the 1930s. The reading of 1,080.19 feet recorded back on Tuesday, Aug. 12, set the new record. Since then it has risen slightly. This is a massive 25 feet lower than this date just one year ago, also 25 feet lower than it was back in the middle of March. This drop has greatly affected the recreational uses of the lake.

    At 1,075 feet, cuts in water deliveries would take place for Nevada and Arizona, including the huge tourist destination of the Las Vegas Valley and also the agricultural areas downstream along the Colorado River.

    According to an article in AP authored by Felicia Fonesca:

    The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Wednesday that it will release 10 percent more water from Lake Powell near the Arizona-Utah border into Lake Mead than it did the past year, thanks to near-normal runoff.

    Federal officials said they'll send 8.23 million acre feet to Lake Mead, up from 7.48 million acre feet when Lake Powell was at its lowest level ever. An acre foot is about 325,850 gallons, or enough to cover a football field with a foot of water.

    Lake Powell is farther upstream in Utah and is currently at an elevation of 3,607 feet.

    The bad news here is that Lake Powell is also 50 feet lower than last year at this time and only 52 feet above its own all-time record low of 3,555 feet set on April 8, 2005.

    For now it seems as though during the coming winter there will be no cuts in water deliveries, but another bad winter rain and snow season could change things for next year, even if there is additional deliveries from Lake Powell.

    A once promising outlook of a strong El Nino this coming winter seems to be a bust with the latest trends of the models. It now looks like at best there will be a weak to moderate El Nino. If the weakening trend continues, even that may be optimistic. Correlations between El Nino and above-normal precipitation are not as good the weaker the El Nino. On the other side of things, there have been ENSO neutral or weak La Nina seasons that brought above-normal precipitation. It will be a critical next few months to see what trends we are seeing in the strength of the El Nino. Not only is this critical for Lake Mead but also to the large part of California that is in extreme or exceptional drought.

    You can follow me on Twitter @Kenwxman.

    The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of AccuWeather, Inc. or AccuWeather.com


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