Thursday, March 05, 2020

Lake Draw Down Watch 2020

March 13th. I'm calling the low of the year on March 11th, 2020 at 10AM with a lake level 654.40 feet above sea level. Sounds so official, doesn't it? Nailing the 10 year average almost down to the hour, and less than 4 inches from the average level!

I'm such a nerd.

Looks like a rainy Saturday coming so levels are not likely to re-approach the low and things should follow the average fairly well until Spring.

Monday, March 02, 2020

February 2020 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

I'm just going to throw this one out there. I made the silly mistake of snowboarding last weekend in Wisconsin and took a gnarly fall. "Oh, the pain" as Dr. Zachary Smith used to say. :P

So, about the only interesting thing to say is that things are pretty normal for levels, but flow is still relatively high. Having just come from "up north" I can tell you there is a lot of water heading our way this spring. Plenty of snow still on the ground there that will eventually make it's way to us in one way or another.

Notice how closely lake levels match the new 10 year average (orange dots) in the hourly chart below!

Lake levels are slowly rising and it looks as if we may have already reached maximum draw down on February 24th. But we've still got a week or more before the average low point, and I've been fooled before so I'll wait to make the call. A clip of the candlestick graph below for the year so far makes this easier to see.

Monday, February 03, 2020

January 2020 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

I haven't even posted some of the summary data and graphs for the last decade and here it is February already and time for the first month of 2020 information! The annual draw down has started in earnest as we can easily see from the hourly detail graph below

Or I suppose more easily seen in the candlestick summary.

New background color for 2020!

I think what is more striking is the volume of water passing through Bagnell Dam for January. While certainly nothing extraordinary, daily discharge was at a brisk pace and steady for the entire month. Something that is a bit unusual for January.


Tuesday, January 28, 2020

The Decade That Was (2010-2019) - Enter Climate Change

A new decade is upon us so it's time to take a look a the decade that was in terms of data. Getting right to it, below is the candlestick summary chart for lake levels and flow for the period of 2010-2019. If you're not familiar with this style of chart you can click here for a full explanation.

Lake Levels and Flow Rates for 2010-2019
The graph (click to enlarge) is a construct of 10 years of hourly data consisting of 87,600 data points. While I wouldn't dignify that much data as Big Data, it is a significant enough number that certain trends might be statistically significant.

So what can 87,600 data points tell us about the Lake of the Ozarks? Obviously it can show what has happened over the past ten years, but more interesting is that it may also indicate what will happen in the future. I'm not talking about predicting daily lake levels, or flow rates, but rather trends. One trend that stands out, almost visually, is the gradual increase in total flow over the years. If you compare the actual data for total yearly flow from 2010-2014 to the period of 2015-2019, you'll see that 10.652 trillion gallons passed through Bagnell Dam in the first half of the decade and 16.107 trillion gallons in the second half. That's an increase of 66% which is rather significant. You can easily see this trend by the graph alone comparing the left half orange bar heights to the right half. The latter half of the decade also contains the highest monthly flow rates and two record flooding events in July and December of 2015.

If that's not obvious from the first graph, let's look at a comparison of the first five years of the decade and the last from an average daily flow point of view. Below is a two-line graph, the green representing 2010-14, and the red 2015-19. From this graph it's even easier to see the difference in the latter half of the decade. With the exception of early spring, which in of itself may be statistically relevant, the period from 2015-2019 consistently shows a higher average flow rate. Even more interesting is that flow rates remain high throughout the summer months, rather than tapering off after spring. This means, more water, flowing all the time.

Climate change is not just about a hotter earth but the impact it has on the water cycle which has far reaching effects. The Lake of the Ozarks is very much a part of that water cycle and Bagnell Dam's ability to manage the changes in the water cycle is critical to the future of the Lake of the Ozarks. We'll be exploring this subject in greater detail in coming posts.

Friday, January 03, 2020

2019 Full Year Lake Level and Flow Rates Review

The amount of water that has flowed through Bagnell Dam this year is truly astonishing. Here's the big picture.

Nearly 3 times the "normal" flow for one year due to flooding. While the Lake of the Ozarks suffered no direct effects of the surrounding waters, over 37% of operational time was spent in maximum turbine flow conditions. How much of that interpolated into power generation, only Ameren knows, but it was there for the taking.

Here's how December itself looked on the daily candlestick graph.

And the hourly detail.

And finally we can now see the daily candlestick graph for the entire year. (click any image to enlarge)

And the monthly summary version

Tuesday, December 03, 2019

November 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

November is usually a very quiet month for the lake, and this year is no real exception. Some rains reached "toad strangling" intensity, but nothing of any real duration to affect levels or flow. It's taken most of the year, but Ameren has finally dropped flow rates down to minimum (about 1000cfs), with no power generation in the last half of the month.

Here's the daily candlestick chart for the month.

And for those detail oriented, the hourly.

Tuesday, November 05, 2019

October 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

A little late this month, but I've been under the weather.

October lake levels were well above average and and total discharge added nearly another 3 Trillion gallons to the year's tally. If not another drop flowed through Bagnell Dam through the end of the year, it would still end up being one for the record books.  Here's the monthly summary:

And for those who like too see levels charted by the hour:

And finally, monthly summaries for the year so far: