Jesse Ferrell

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The Incredible Shrinking Lake Mead

October 19, 2010; 4:27 PM ET

UPDATE: Here is a good article from a local perspective. Here is a video update from which mentions our Winter Forecast:

Last month I talked again about Devils Lake in North Dakota, which has been rising since 1993. Today I can tell you about another Lake in Nevada that has been falling since 2000: Lake Mead, east of Las Vegas [Google Map]. NASA, who provided the images below, says the lake has dropped 126 feet since 1985, at one point losing 60 feet in four years! Here are the two NASA satellite images (from 1985 and 2010) overlaid to show the difference (just place your mouse over the image):

The graph below is from a NASA scientist, shows the variation in the lake's level for the past 80 years:

Ironically (since I've had this story on my to-do list for a month) the lake just hit new record lows (picked up by the Associated Press), and local businesses are incurring high costs due to the constantly-changing water level. The article says that if it falls another 30 feet, the Southern Nevada Water Authority will no longer be able to draw water for the Las Vegas Valley. Unfortunately, the forecast is for the drought to continue for the next year or two.

NASA also made this imagery available in Google Earth from which I clipped the following two comparison images (again, hover your mouse). This is really impressive stuff!

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About This Blog

Jesse Ferrell
Jesse Ferrell's WeatherMatrix blog covers extreme weather worldwide with a concentration on weather photos and Social Media.