Lake Levels Marching Toward Summer Pool
April 11, 2017 | Staff Report
Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley continue their climb toward summer pool. Usually on April 1st of each year, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) will begin to raise the lakes from their winter pool stage (officially 354') to summer pool stage (359') by May 1st.
This year, the lakes were running about 12-18 inches above winter pool for most of the spring, although they dropped below 355' for a short time in late March. Now the lakes are quickly rising through the 356-357 range and is forecast to reach 358 in the next few days.
Summer pool typically sticks around until about July 1st. At that point, TVA typically will begin the process of lowering the lakes back to winter pool by December 1. It is a very slow, deliberate descent that takes a few months.
It's not unusual for some years to receive excessive rainfall, either here at the lakes or upstream in Tennessee and Alabama. When this happens, the lakes' levels can fluctuate and rise quickly. The most recent case was in January 2016 when the lakes skyrocketed to around 367'. Usually "flooding" occurs in the spring; the January 2016 event was very rare for winter.
The record high elevation for Kentucky Lake was set in 2011 when the lake reached 372.5'. At 375, water begins to pour over the gates at Kentucky Dam, which is a scenario that has never been experienced - and hopefully will never be.
Access the latest lake levels, water temperatures and stage forecasts.