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Lake Mead projected to reach near-record lows in 2025

Lake Mead is projected to reach near-record lows in 2025, although a hydrologist warns the forecasts are uncertain.

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation this month released its November 2023 projections for Lake Powell and Lake Mead’s water levels, which showed Lake Mead’s water levels could reach 1,040.77 feet in September 2025, close to the lake’s record low of 1,040.58 feet in July 2022.

The levels are then projected to rise to 1,043.33 feet in October 2025, according to the forecast, which is used to determine shortage conditions for the Colorado River system for the coming year.

Paul Miller, a hydrologist with the National Weather Service’s Colorado Basin River Forecast Center in Salt Lake City, said it is unclear what the Colorado River Basin will look like in 2025 in terms of weather conditions and water levels.

Many factors that contribute to Lake Mead’s water levels could change the projection, such as how much water will be released from Lake Powell and the amount of snowpack that accumulates and melts before entering the river system, he said.

“We know very little out that far,” Miller said. “We have some skill in our long-term forecast, but it’s not enough where I would say you can bet the farm on it. It’s general guidance at this point.”

As of October 2023, Lake Mead’s water elevation was 1,065.34 feet. That’s almost 27 feet higher than what was projected in the November 2021 24-Month Study.

Lake Mead’s elevation has steadily risen since April, in large part due to federal regulators releasing more water from Lake Powell’s Glen Canyon Dam downstream to Lake Mead, a move made possible by a wet winter with above average snowmelt.

Despite that, Lake Mead still is heading into 2024 under a federal water shortage for a third consecutive year.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on X.

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