On its way up the New England coast yesterday, Hurricane Elsa dropped over 3″ of rain on Clary Lake. While this won’t end our drought, it will go a long ways towards replenishing ground water supplies, and it brought the lake up enough for water to flow over the top of the dam again. For the month of July we’re now at 5.35 inches, well above the average of 3.54 inches. For the year we’re now only (only?) 4.97 inches short of normal for this date.
[UPDATE]: As of this morning and for the FIRST TIME this year, the lake level is +0.08 feet ABOVE the High Water Mark having risen 7.08 inches since yesterday morning. Plenty of water flowing over the top of the dam as the picture at left shows. What a treat to have such high water this time of year!
Early Sunday afternoon on May 23, 2021, a strong cold front blew in from the north. Behind it were high winds that lasted all afternoon and into the night. We took it on the nose on our location on the south shore of Clary Lake. For a while I thought my boat would ride it out OK but it was taking a beating and I decided to move it over into a protected cove… It made for a pretty hairy ride, I wish I’d had the foresight to do it sooner!
Here on Clary Lake we haven’t been keeping ice in and ice out records for long enough to see a shortening of the iced-in period. Our records go back to 2001 and in that time, there’s no obvious trend but over significantly longer periods (many decades and longer) it’s clear that Maine winters are gradually becoming milder and anyone who’s lived around here for more than a few years can testify to that fact. This article in the Kennebec Journal discusses some of the impacts of shorter iced-in periods on Maine Lakes.
September 2013 picture of Art Enos’s dock. It just so happens his dock did NOT have floating decking but if it had, it would have floated away!
Despite it being early April, many people have already put in their docks this year, perhaps because the lake is relatively low for this time of year, or they just want to get a jump on the boating season. Like who doesn’t? However, most of the docks I’ve seen are just barely clear of the water. The lake is currently only 0.17 feet (2 inches) below the HWM, much lower than it’s been the past two years on this date. While it’s been relatively dry so far this year, it is not unreasonable to expect significant spring rains at any time. If that happens the lake could easily rise 3-4 inches (or more!) almost overnight and flood the docks. If your dock is of the stationary (not floating) kind and if your decking is of the unattached floating variety, you might want to make sure to attach it to the frame so it doesn’t float away. Zip ties work well for this or use some clothes line or something similar to tie the decking down.
Clary Lake completely froze over on December 19th, but warm temperatures, high winds, and heavy rain on Christmas Day has melted off most of the ice. There’s still some ice in the coves, especially along the south shore. We’ll make note of this fact on our Ice-in and Ice-out page, but we won’t be changing the 2020 ice-in date. The lake is already trying to refreeze and probably will skim over again in the next couple of days as overnight temperatures for the next week are expected to be in the low to mid 20’s. The first week of the new year is looking to be much colder and if we don’t get any snow for a while we should have some good ice for skating!
After consulting with the two Davids (David Hodsdon and David Knight) we’ve concluded that Clary has finally iced over but it will likely at least partially melt off again on Christmas day as we’re expecting a storm bringing an inch or more of rain with temps in the 50’s. Time will tell! As cold as it’s been this month, I expected the lake to freeze before this but heavy rains at the end of November and beginning of December have resulted in a lot of water moving through the lake and as you know, moving water resists freezing. Also, the addition of lots of rain to the lake raises the temperature if only slightly, and this slows down freezing as well. Continue reading →
The drought conditions affecting Maine and much of the Northeast are worsening with no relief in sight. Much of the State of Maine is now in Severe Drought (graphic, at left) including Lincoln County. Until today we were in Moderate Drought but the continuing lack of rain is taking it’s toll. We have only recorded 0.10 inches of rain so far this month back on September 2nd. Since then, nothing. Despite the dry conditions, at -14.5 inches below the HWM, the lake level really isn’t that from where we’d expect it to be this time of year. Last year at this time it was down -10.5 inches. Keep in mind that about 3 inches of that water isn’t really ours to manage because the HWM is actually 3.4 inches ABOVE the top of the dam. Perhaps a better way to think of it is we’re now down a hair over 11 inches below the top of the dam. When things are this dry, evaporation accounts for a significant amount of water loss. Also, water soaks into the ground around the edge of the lake. Downstream flows are only 2 cfs, less than the current minimum flows of 3.5 cfs.
According to the Maine Forestry Service, the fire danger is HIGH. Under the circumstances, I’d be surprised if they were issuing burn permits at all. Careful out there folks.
[UPDATE] The Maine Forestry Service HAS suspended issuing online burning permits. You or may not be able to get one from your local fire department.
A while ago we had a Drought Monitor page on the website, but it stopped being supported and finally stopped working. I’ve added this U.S. Drought Monitor graphic to the Weather page. When I originally posted this article on June 18th, we were considered to be “Abnormally Dry.” So far this month we’ve only recorded a hair over 1″ of rain.
Finally! David Hodsdon has proclaimed this year’s ice out date to be March 27th. That was the day when all the ice was completely gone from the coves and inlets around the lake. That makes Linda Gallion (picture at left, from last year’s Annual Meeting) the winner of our 2020 Ice Out Contest! Her’s was the closest guess (March 24th) without going over. Linda has been a long time CLA member and served as Treasurer for ten years from 2005 to 2015. Congratulations Linda! Hope you enjoy your tee shirt! Many thanks to all who participated in our first Clary Lake Ice Out Contest. Here are their guesses:
2020 Ice Out Contest Guesses
Ice Out was determined to be March 27th. The closest guess wins!
June M. Lordi
If you think it took a longer than usual for the lake to become ice-free this year it is because it did! I don’t think the ice was really ready to melt off, but a heavy rain event on March 13th which dropped 1.20 inches of rain followed by strong winds the next day got rid of a lot of ice on the north side of the lake. There were actually people ice fishing the previous weekend. After that initial melt-off, the ice seemed to take forever to melt out of the coves on the south side, and down by the boat launch.