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Lake Mead Falls to Record Low

Posted by feww on June 25, 2015

Lake Mead falls to 36 percent of capacity

Lake Mead water level fell to a record low of 327.65m (1,074.98 feet) above sea level, or 36 percent of the available capacity,  just before midnight Tuesday, said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

The level rose slightly to 327.68m (1,075.05 feet), barely above the critical level of 327.66m (1075 feet) by 7 am Wednesday, said the Bureau.

At 327.66m (1075 feet) elevation, Lake Mead has an available capacity of 11.84 km³ (9,601,000 acre feet), with the total available capacity being 32.56 km³ (26,399,000 acre feet), according to the USBR 2009 data.

In August 2010, Lake Mead level fell to 331 meters (1,087 feet) above sea level, compared with August 1985 level of 370m.

Summary of Lake Mead Stats

  • Lake Mead is the largest reservoir in the U.S. in terms of water capacity.
  • It’s formed by the Hoover Dam (construction finished in 1936), fed by the Colorado River, and located in the states of Nevada and Arizona.
  • The lake is 177 km long when full, and has 1,220km of shoreline.
  • Max. Width: 12.87km
  • Max. Depth: 162m (532 feet)
  • The high-water line: 375 m of (1,229 feet) above sea level. ( At this elevation, the water would be more than 7 1/2 feet over the top of the raised spillway gates, which are at elevation 372.28m, or 1,221.4 feet —USBR).
  • Surface area: 642 km² (248 square miles) at 372.28m (1,221.4 feet)
  • Capacity: 35.7 km³ (28,945,000 acre feet) – less the accumulated sediments.
    • Available capacity: 32.56 km³ (26,399,000 acre feet)
  • Last time at full capacity: 1983 (the lake has since been plagued by drought and increased water demand.)
  • Current capacity: 36 percent of the available capacity.
  • Demand: About 42 million people including farmers in Arizona, California, Nevada and Mexico depend on Leak mead for their water.
    • Lake Mead attracts more than 9 million visitors each year for swimming, boating, skiing, fishing and other outdoor pursuits.
  • Annual Inflow: Lake Mead receives most of its water from snow melt in the Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah Rocky Mountains.
  • Annual Outflow: About 9.7 million acre feet (12.0 km³)
    • Evaporation (included in the above): About 800,000 acre feet/ year (0.987 km³).
  • Annual Deficit: 1.2 million acre feet (1.5 km³)
  • Drought: Colorado River is currently experiencing its 15th consecutive year of drought.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Reclamation has issued the following warning.

Excessive Heat Warning: Visitors to Hoover Dam should expect temperatures at least 10 degrees higher than the Las Vegas area, ranging from [49 to 52 degrees Celsius] 120 to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. There is limited shade at Hoover Dam. Visitors must be prepared for the heat with appropriate clothing and extra water, and are encouraged to visit Hoover Dam during morning hours.

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