Hydrologic Conditions: Colorado River Basin, June 2016

Current Conditions

Mead current conditions (06-2016)_Web

Lake Mead: Lake Mead’s current elevation is now 2.98 feet below the elevation of Lake Mead in June 2015 and 96.12 feet below the historical June elevation of Lake Mead.


Powell current conditions (06-2016)_Web

Lake Powell: Lake Powell’s current elevation is now 3.97 feet above the elevation of Lake Powell in June 2015 and 15.51 feet below the historical June elevation of Lake Powell.



24-Month Study

Mead 24-Month (06-2016)_WebLake Mead: The June 2016 24-Month Study projects that Lake Mead’s January 2017 elevation will be 1,080.37 feet, or 5.37 feet above the trigger elevation for a declaration of a shortage condition for 2017. The May 2016 24-Month Study projected an elevation of 1,079.60 feet for January 2017. The June 2016 forecasts for Lake Mead elevations are above the levels forecasted in May.

Actual Lake Mead elevations in 2013 through early 2014 followed projections from the January 2013 study, when actual elevations plummeted generally in tandem with the projections from the August 2013 study. The August 2014 study projected a slight increase in Lake Mead elevations which was slightly below actual elevations. With a recent rebound in inflows, the forecasts prepared last summer are above the August 2014 forecast.

The August 2015 study forecasted that Lake Mead elevations would fall below the trigger for shortages in late spring 2016 (which proved true) but would rebound towards the trigger for January 2017. The June 2016 projections are slightly above the August 2015 projections through November 2016; then they fall below the August 2015 projects. Right now, the prospect for a shortage declaration in 2017 for the Colorado River Basin sits on a “knife edge.”

The continuing trend of progressively lower “highs” in successive winter elevations and lower “lows” in successive summer elevations belies a continuing downward trend in Lake Mead elevations. 2017 is looking like the first time shortages may be triggered in the Lower Basin.

Lake Powell

Powell 24-month (06-2016)_WebThe June 2016 24-Month Study continues with a projected upward trend in Lake Powell elevations. The June 2016 forecasts for Lake Powell elevations are above the levels forecasted in May.

Actual Lake Powell elevations in 2013 were generally running below forecasted levels in January 2013, but above the levels projected in the August 2013 study. Actual elevations have generally tracked the projections in the August 2014 study.

The August 2015 study projected elevations above the August 2014 study.  The June 2016 projected elevations are running slightly below the August 2015 study projections.

The trend of progressively higher “highs” in successive June elevations and higher “lows” in successive March elevations continues. When will Powell elevations reach their peak?

Monthly Elevations

Mead History (06-2016)_Web

Lake Mead: Monthly elevations in 2016 are lower than in 2015 and have dropped from about 80 feet below historical average monthly elevations to more than 90 feet below historical average monthly elevations.


Powell History (06-2016)_Web
Lake Powell: 
Monthly elevations are running higher in 2016 than 2015 but remain nearly 20 feet below historical monthly average elevations.