And so we come to the end of another year (#5) of water level measurements. I have archived the December 2016 Water Level Chart (at left) and the Whole Year 2016 chart (see below). The most notable feature of the December chart is the the fact that lake only came up 8.76″ over the course of the month despite us having received 3.88″ of precipitation; this is a runoff multiplier of only 2.25X or about 1/2 of what it should be this time of year, even with a low water table. No doubt the reason for this is because the dam’s gate was mostly open for almost the entire month. Normally with the ground frozen and having received that much rain, the lake would have risen twice as much.
Rainfall for 2016 at 38.0″ ended up between 5″ and 7″ below average, depending on who’s average you subscribe to. In either case we go into the new year still in Severe drought (drought intensity D2) however, with the ground frozen, very little water is going to get into the water table until spring,
Thanks in large part to the drought, Clary Lake experienced the longest stretch of the lowest water levels ever, having spent August, September, October, and November more than 5 feet below the Normal High Water Mark (NHWM) and reaching lowest level anyone has ever seen of -67.3″ below the NHWM on October 20th. For much of the late summer and fall, there was no water flowing out of Clary Lake at all (see picture at left). Here are the Whole Year water level charts for 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 so you can compare them:[Not a valid template]
You’ll notice that in 2015 the lake level fell below -60″ below the NHWM for a little more than 2.5 months in August, September, and October but in 2014, 2013, and 2012 the lake level only briefly touched that low level for a day or two on several occasions. So if the lake level seemed worse than usual to you, it’s because it was. Going into winter, the lake remains at lower than usual for this time of year.
In previous winters I’ve taken a break from making water level measurements when winter set in hard. Because last winter was a largely open with little snow and mild temperatures, I was able to take water level measurements all winter long. This winter is looking a little more traditional so I’ll likely take a break when winter settles in hard. It’s already getting tedious chopping a hole through 12″ of ice just to measure the water level.
Happy New Year everyone 🙂