WeatherTalk: Lake Mead drops to a record low level this week

If Lake Mead falls another 150 feet, water will not be able to flow beyond the dam.

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FARGO — Lake Mead, a reservoir on the Colorado River behind the massive Hoover Dam, dropped to 1,044 feet this week, which is the lowest level since the 1930s. This is 181 feet lower than its record high level in 1983. Hoover Dam, a Bureau of Reclamation project, was the largest concrete structure on Earth when it was built from 1931 to 1936. Lake Mead and its upstream version, Lake Powell, were designed for flood control, hydroelectric power, and to divert water to cities across the Southwest; notably, Las Vegas.

Two decades of a progressive drought threatens the viability of all of this. If Lake Mead falls another 150 feet, water will not be able to flow beyond the dam, which would create serious water shortages for Phoenix, Los Angeles, and irrigated agriculture throughout the region, and create a need for an alternative electricity source for Las Vegas.

Related Topics: WEATHER
John Wheeler is Chief Meteorologist for WDAY, a position he has had since May of 1985. Wheeler grew up in the South, in Louisiana and Alabama, and cites his family's move to the Midwest as important to developing his fascination with weather and climate. Wheeler lived in Wisconsin and Iowa as a teenager. He attended Iowa State University and achieved a B.S. degree in Meteorology in 1984. Wheeler worked about a year at WOI-TV in central Iowa before moving to Fargo and WDAY..
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