Category Archives: Technical Lake Stuff

May 2022 Water Level Chart Archived

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May 2022

I have archived the May 2022 Water Level Chart (at left). From the beginning of the month on we saw an abrupt change from the above-average precipitation which has been the norm for the first 4 months of the year, almost as though someone had turned off the spigot! Total rainfall for the month was only 1.34 inches, well short of the normal 3.71 inches. Because we were 3.78 inches above normal at the end of April, we’re still 1.41 inches ahead of where we’d be in a “normal” year. However, simply looking at total precipitation gives you an unrealistic picture of actual ground water conditions: the fact of the matter is, the entire coast of Maine including Clary Lake is considered to be “Abnormally Dry” by the USDA Drought Monitor program. Continue reading

Lake Water Quality Monitoring Resumes for 2022

Clary Transparency

Kelsie French and I resumed our water quality monitoring efforts for 2022 on Saturday May 14th, a little later than originally planned due to circumstances which all seemingly conspired to keep us off the lake. We’re back in the saddle now however and plan to visit Clary’s deepest spot to collect data every couple of weeks this season. Continue reading

April 2022 Water Level Chart Archived

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April 2022

I have archived the April 2022 Water Level Chart (at left). April has been a very cold, very wet, and very windy month! The above-average precipitation with which we started the year has continued through April in a big way: we received fully 5.64 inches of rain in April or 1.77 inches more than the normal rainfall of 3.87 inches, fully 3.78 inches beyond where we would normally be on this date. We have received literally 5 months of precipitation in only 4. Impressive.

Not surprisingly, the lake level remained high for the month, staying somewhere between the top of the dam and the HWM for most of the month. It was quite stable really, fluctuating only a little over 4.5 inches from high to low. Only twice during the month did the water level rise above the high water mark, and at that only briefly. I love stopping by the dam and seeing water dribbling over the top of it. Continue reading

02 March 2022: Ice Berms & Pressure Ridges

With all the attention on Clary Lake ice this spring, it seems fitting to post this article I’ve been working on for awhile, yet another in our Continuing Education Series, based on the premise that informed people make better Lake Stewards! This post is on Ice Berms and Pressure Ridges and the science behind them and will be added under the Programs & Education menu heading.


IMG_1150_compressedI received a few inquiries about ice berms and pressure ridges in response to my post about February water levels so I thought I’d provide a little more information about these interesting phenomena and the science behind them. Imagine the forces at work that were responsible for the buckled ice in the photo at left! First we need to learn more about how water changes and what happens to it as its temperature changes.

Water becomes more dense (heavier) as its temperature drops, causing it to sink below warmer water: cold water sinks and warm water rises. We all know this much from going swimming and encountering that cold layer of water 4-5 feet below the surface. As its temperature drops, water continues to become more dense and continues sinking below warmer water until it gets down to about 39° F. Then something unexpected happens:  as the water cools, the molecular motion continues to slow down and as the water starts to assume the crystalline lattice structure that is ice, the distance between the molecules actually increases. The freezing water, rather than continuing to become denser, actually begins to expand, becoming less dense, causing it to float (it is this expansion as it freezes that ends up breaking water pipes). By the time water reaches its freezing temperature of 32° F (0° C) and changes to ice, it has expanded approximately 9% from its maximum density and a complete inversion from the usual summertime temperature stratification takes place. In the winter when the lake is ice covered, the coldest water is right under the ice and the temperature rises as depth increases so the warmest (and densest) water is at the bottom of the lake. This is completely opposite of what we see in the summer time with the warmest water at the surface and the coldest water at the bottom. Continue reading

01 April 2022: Unidentified Animal Sighted on Clary Lake

I spotted this Clary Lake critter this morning when I was out checking my rain gauge. At first I thought it was a goose but the sound it made wasn’t goose-like at all. Sounded more like… I dunno. It was weird. It didn’t stick around. Fortunately I was able to find a picture of it in the webcam archive. Anyone have any idea what this is?

March 2022 Water Level Chart Archived

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March 2022

I have archived the March 2022 Water Level Chart (at left). The above-average precipitation with which we started the year did not continue into March, the month’s precipitation of 3.31 inches fell about 1/2″ short of the normal 3.77 inches for March. However, despite the shortfall (if you can call it that), we’re still a solid 2″ above normal for this date and the lake level in March reflects that rainy trend. Our management goal in late winter/early spring is to raise the lake level up to high spring time levels. This year we just got there a little faster than in recent years, actually overtopping the dam in late February. The lake level exceeded the HWM briefly on March 23rd. You can see this year’s water level compared with water levels from 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021 on our Current Clary Lake Water Level Charts page (see the 4th chart down). Continue reading

13 March 2022: Early Spring Dam Management

20220309_110621-MediumWe’ve begun our Spring management activities with the aim of getting Clary Lake filled up for another boating, fishing, and swimming season, about week earlier than usual because of all the snow and rain we’ve been blessed with this year. Our spring management includes adding stop logs to the weir to start raising the lake level to it’s spring high while opening the gate to increase outflows to maintain minimum flows, and also to keep the lake from rising too quickly. It’s a balancing act made more difficult with having to second guess the weather. Because of drought conditions the previous 3 years, it has been a challenge raising the lake level in the spring while at the same time maintaining outflows. We pretty much have the opposite problem this year! After the first two months of 2022 we’re 2.5 inches of precipitation above normal for this date. The picture shows Steve Cowles on March 9th cranking open the gate the other day, with Dave Knight standing by with the folding ruler. There are 4 threads to the inch on the screw, so opening the gate 12″ means turning the gate wheel 48 turns. That’s a workout. Today, we installed the last two stop logs in the weir. You can track all the action on the 2022 Dam Operation Log.

February 2022 Water Level Chart Archived

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February 2022

I have archived the February 2022 Water Level Chart (at left). The above-average precipitation with which we started the year (January ended 0.93″ above normal) has continued throughout the month of February which saw a total of 4.16″ of precipitation (water), the effect of which has been to put us fully 2.48″ above normal for the year to date. This bodes well for ground water supplies this spring, in marked contrast to the last 3 or 4 years. We’ll have to wait and see if the cycle of summer drought has been broken. All the rain and snow we received in February resulted in the lake level rising to unseasonably HIGH levels, overtopping the dam on February 23rd and coming to within half an inch of the HWM on the 25th. Continue reading

9 February 2022: How’s This For Confusing?

Everyone knows I love charts (and maps!). They’re a great way of visualizing data. Sometimes my love of maps and charts takes me to some  pretty strange places. Here’s an example of one of those places (at left). Every time I look at this chart I have to stop and peer at it for a moment before it makes sense. Every time. And some days it just doesn’t make sense no matter how long I stare at it. This particular chart shows the water level of Clary Lake on February 8th, 2022 and the elevation of the water line on that date is 149.88 feet, or 1.29 feet below the HWM. What this chart is actually showing us is the distance the lake surface is below the top of the dam, at any place along the top of the dam, starting at the left (0 feet) and proceeding to the right (98 feet). Continue reading

January 2022 Water Level Chart Archived

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January 2022

I have archived the January 2022 Water Level Chart (at left), starting off the new year with more snow on the ground than I can remember seeing for several years. Compared to recent winters, this condition bodes well for our ground water supply come spring the ground thaws this spring and the snow melts.

Our general dam management goal in the winter is to maintain a lake level somewhere around 18 inches below the HWM. This is low enough to prevent ice damage to the shoreline around the lake yet still high enough to maintain outflows sufficient to meet the minimum flows requirement of the Clary Lake Water Level Order. To that end, we’ve been successful: the lake level is currently around -1.41 feet and outflows are around 13 cfs (cubic feet per second), slightly higher than the current minimum flows which of 11.3 cfs. If you’re unclear about minimum flows, what they are, and why we are supposed to maintain them, see Minimum Flows Explained.