Lake levels are going down, slowly
TRI-COUNTY AREA—The flash flooding that impacted the area Wednesday, May 14 and Friday, May 16 has led to a rise in lake water levels in both Keuka and Seneca Lakes. Two weeks after the storm events caused the flooding, the water levels appear to be heading back down.
According to the Keuka Lake Association (KLA), the maximum desirable level for Keuka Lake in May is 714.25 feet, while the minimum desirable level is 713.72 feet. While the lake levels were already ranging toward the high side throughout the year, the mid-May storms and flash flooding caused the levels to spike dramatically in a short period of time. As of Tuesday, May 27, the lake stands at 714 feet and 7.44 inches.
The lake level peaked at 715.64 feet during the Friday, May 16 flash flooding events. Prior to the heavy rainfalls that began the night of Tuesday, May 13, the lake level was just under the maximum level at 714.2 feet Monday, May 12.
“At the current rates of discharge Keuka Lake should be back to the top end of the control curve by very late this week,” KLA President Bill Laffin said. ”The forecast rain for mid week could impact this estimate.”
Laffin said the lake levels are being reduced by “a little more than an inch per day.” He said high water issues may include shore erosion, displacement of docks, dock boards and moorings and some washed out roads around the lake. He said several of the creeks that flow in Keuka Lake deposited substantial amounts of soil and gravel and well as tree limbs in the lake. The Yates County Department of Health also issued an advisory for residents who have shore or shallow wells. Laffin said as of Memorial Day, Monday, May 26, debris floating in the lake continues but many less pieces are being observed.
“While the lake did rise substantially during this storm, Keuka was never more than three inches above Mean High Water and was 10 inches less than the published ‘Minor Flood Level,’” Laffin said. “As it relates to other Keuka Lake high water events, the May 14, 2014 storm caused the lake to rise to a levels equal to April 1996 and 2005, about one foot less than May 1993 and about three feet and five inches less than Hurricane Agnes in 1972.”
Meanwhile, Seneca Lake has been over its maximum desired level since late March, only dipping back under the maximum briefly in May before the storms brought it back above. According to New York State Canals’ Geneva readings, the maximum target level for Seneca Lake in May is 446.4 feet, while the minimum target level is 445.8 feet. The mid-May rainstorms caused the lake level to exceed 447 feet briefly, but they have since receded below it once more.
The mid-May storms did not cause Seneca Lake to hit its peak levels for 2014. Seneca lake’s highest water levels reached near 447.4 feet in mid-April.
Seneca Lake has not yet reached a flood level for this year. A minor flood damage level would require a reading of 447.8 feet, a major flood damage level would be at 448.5 feet and a 100-year flood level would be at 449.9 feet.