Freedom–March 1, 2013–I was at the dam around noon Thursday. Snowplow piles restricted a close up view, but I did confirm that all five south side gates are open. Looking to the west there is open water and no ice blockage. Water flow is steady and the level appears to be the same on both sides of the south dam. This is normal when the lake elevation is below 405′. The south side dam drains the water from the bottom of the lake so water flow resembles a river at today’s activity level.
We had 20″ of snow on 2/9 and another 10″on 2/24. Most of this snow is piled up on the side of the road, just waiting to melt and run into the lake. The big storms predicted for this past week resulted in 1-2″ of very wet snow that is now flowing toward the lake.
Flow rate at the dam is 430 (cfs) cubic feet per second. Viewed from the Rt. 153 Bridge it looks like a wide but gentle stream. This rate will increase to 3,000 or more when the lake elevation reaches 410′ sometime this summer. The gentle flow today could fill the basement of 95 homes (2,000 sf) once every hour.
The lake and most bays have been iced over since the day after Christmas and should remain so for at least another four weeks. (2012 ice-out was 03/24). Are we almost there?
Some of the locals are asking why today’s lake elevation is not the same as in previous years. I did a little research and found:
Note that the plan for summer level is 407.25′.
A few years ago the level got down to 403.9 in early January. Some of the earlier elevation graphs did include a winter level of 403.5 but no such notation recently.
At this time of year nature is in control of the lake elevation. The only thing man can do is close the south side gates, watch the flow rate decrease and elevation go up. This usually takes place the end of March when flow of rain and melt water is great enough to support downstream habitat—AND WE ARE ALMOST THERE.