Lack Of Rain Leaving Oklahoma Lakes Far Below Normal Levels

The dry lake bed is becoming an all too familiar sight at Skiatook Lake, which is 13 feet below normal.

Friday, February 8th 2013, 5:19 pm

By: Craig Day

There hasn't been a year with above normal rainfall in our part of the state since 2009. Take a look at area lakes and you'll see just how desperately we need rain.

The dry lake bed is becoming an all too familiar sight at Skiatook Lake, which is 13 feet below normal.

"Starting to forget what it looks like normally," said Jeff Walker, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The low water level has left much of Tall Chief Cove unusable for lake-goers for quite some time.

"This whole peninsula there should be normally underwater when it's at normal pool. And that one at the far, far end, other side of the lake there, is supposed to be underwater, also," Walker said. "And all the yellow PVC should be underwater. That's the barrier for keeping the swimmers from going."

Low water levels are all too familiar at other lakes, as well. Tenkiller is seven feet below normal. Pictures from Lake Eufaula show docks sitting on the ground. It's down five feet.

1/14/2013 Related Story: Payne County Declares Emergency Over Lone Chimney Lake Level

Sky News 6 flew over old structures that have been underwater for years at Oologah Lake, which is also five feet below normal. At Hulah Lake, six feet below normal, much more of the rocky shore is showing.

The extended lack of rain is to blame.

Our area usually averages 41 inches of rain each year. In 2010, we got 34 inches. In 2011, we got 31 inches. And last year, we only got 28 inches.

A lot of factors go into figuring out how much it would take to fill the lakes, like the rainfall intensity, size of the watershed, and even how much active vegetation growth there is in the area, which captures more moisture.

At Skiatook Lake, for example, it would take runoff of 10 inches. And at Birch Lake, near Barnsdall, which is eight inches below normal, hydrologists say it would take a six-inch runoff.

It's asking a lot to catch up, and it won't happen quickly, but experts say any rain, at this point, is welcome.

Like all of us, they hope we get some soon.

Keystone Lake is four feet below normal, right now. Even with a large watershed, it would take a good rain with plenty of runoff for it to get anywhere close to normal.


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