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:

Tuesday, October 01, 2019

September 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

Ah, the end of Summer, how bittersweet. While on the one hand Fall brings thoughts of winterizing boats, kids back in school, and piles of leaves, this time of year also brings some of the best boating on the Lake of the Ozarks, especially for those of us fortunate enough to live here year round. The main channel is calm and the sunsets are gorgeous.

It's been a remarkable year for the Lake as the effects of Spring rains are still being measured. Take a look at Septembers candlestick chart.

See those blue bars along the bottom? That is a steady flow rate more than twice the average for this time of year and with little rain, with the exception at the end of the month (causing the largest change in lake level in a single day for the month). Bagnell Dam continues to release vast quantities of water. The low flow of September 28th is the rare exception, and didn't last long.

Here's the detailed chart: 

It's clear from the annual summary below that while flow remains heavy, things are slowly returning to normal.

Tuesday, September 03, 2019

August 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

A very high quantity of water continued flowing through Bagnell Dam in August, but flow rates seem to be dropping into a more normal range albeit on the high side. Lake levels themselves are well within norm and we should see things dropping slowly to about 658 by September's end.

Looking at the dam itself we can still see 3 of the "rake gates" open partially, indicating some flow over the spillways, but overall flow seems point too reduced power generation. It's an odd configuration with flood gates partially open, and power generation low, but I suspect the goal is to get surface currents moving to get some of debris out of the water. The lake has had a lot of organic debris in it all summer.  Here's the candlestick graph.

And the hourly detail graph for those interested...

and the monthly summary candlestick.  So much water!

Friday, August 16, 2019

Kayaking on Lake of the Ozarks

It's funny that I've never put up a post about kayaking on the Lake of the Ozarks because it's become one of my favorite activities on the lake. Judging by the proliferation of kayaks just in my cove alone, it appears I'm not the only one.

Modern kayaks are amazingly simple watercraft. Typically vacuumed formed out of a single piece of poly-carbonate plastic, the same stuff used to make trashcans. They are relatively light, tough as hell, and require very little maintenance, and the best part is, the motor is (usually) very reliable! Usually I say, because failures have been known to happen!

15 year old ($285) Bending Branches paddle destined for the burn pile.
There are two basic styles of kayak the sit-top and the cockpit style. Sit-tops are more recreational and also tend to be the style of choice for fisherman. The cockpit style is one where you slip into the body cavity of the kayak itself. In this category there is a full spectrum of types ranging from the long slender "sea-kayaks" at one end of the scale, to the short white water style on the other.

I have a Perception Carolina, which is considered a touring kayak which are on the the sea-kayak range of style, typically anything over 11 feet long.

My wife in our Perception Carolina in Florida - "Are there sharks in these waters?"

I've had my kayak for more than 10 years now, a 14.2 foot Carolina, made by Perception. I've taken it to the ocean and on just about every river in Missouri, including the Osage. At the lake I've probably spent more hours in it than I have my 27ft Sea Ray in the past ten years. I can only guess how many miles I've paddled but I know it's in the hundreds.

Here's some more pics!

Florida - Getting past the breakers is easier than getting back in!
When the lake flooded July 4th, 2015 I was able to paddle out to the main channel. Not a boat in sight.

July 2, 2015, 8MM Main Channel
Paddling around in the winter time is some of the best kayaking, but be safe! I have a life jacket on at all times when paddling in the winter!

One of the cool things about a kayak is being able to sneak up on wildlife, which is not always a great idea. Startled deer do funny things.

I got a lot closer than this and the poor deer nearly jumped in the kayak when she finally spotted me.
One of my favorite things to do in the kayak is fish of course. The Carolina does fine fishing, but as I said there are kayaks made specifically for fishing, and if that's your thing, I would recommend you take a look at them over a touring kayak such as mine.

Some tips when it comes to paddling on the Lake of the Ozarks.

Don't stray too far from docks and shoreline, especially on weekends. There's far too much boat traffic to be safe in a kayak in open water. Try to be in a position to duck beside a dock in quick order if a boat doesn't seem to see you. You're too low to the water in a kayak to be easily seen. Of course, the back of a cove or in no-wake zone is relatively safe, but you should always keep an eye out for power boats and PWCs.

Let people know where you're going and how long you expect to be gone if you plan on being out of site of your home dock. People worry.

You are required to have a life jacket with you, on is optional, but it would be wise.

Buddy up if you can. I personally kayak alone quite a bit (me time), but it is more fun with a companion.

Teach your children how to kayak. I have never met a child that didn't enjoy being in a kayak. There's something empowering about it to them. I suppose it's the first serious mode of transportation that they are in charge of maybe, but kids in the cockpit with you will enjoy it as well. If they can fit. My granddaughter is about 60lbs and she's only now getting too big to sit in front of me and leave me room to paddle. But now she's old enough to paddle her own kayak! My four year old grandson fits just fine still. I've taught all of my nieces, nephews and friends to kayak and by far they are the most popular water toys we have.

Don't tease the people on paddle-boards by doing circles around them. A stand up paddle-board (SUP) is fine, but I like to make way on the water even if it's under my own power. SUP's are slow, difficult to maneuver and not very versatile, but to each their own.

I could go on and on bragging about how much joy that little boat has brought me over the years. The stories I could tell. I've truly had some amazing experiences. If you think it might be something for you, I would encourage looking for something used first. A lot of people buy them, use them briefly and decide it's not for them. You can usually pick up a very "low hour" kayak if you just keep an eye out or tell people you're looking.

It Was the Boat!

This is from the Parade of Boats 2017 on Bagnell Dam. This is a beautiful console boat, called Deep Impact. I believe it is for sale.

I got in a little trouble for this picture with the wife. I swear, I was trying to get a picture of the boat! ;-)

Friday, August 02, 2019

July 2019 Lake Levels and Flow Rates

I usually save the following graphic for the end of the year, but the total amount of water that has passed through Bagnell Dam so far has been unprecedented in the time I've been keeping track of it. 3 of the 12 flood gates continue to remain partially open keeping flow rates just above 50,000 cubic feet per second (cfs). This means for the month of July 981 BILLION gallons of water flowed through the lake into the Osage River valley below. For the year, 3.7 TRILLION gallons have already passed, and the gates remain open.

For perspective, more water has already flowed through than all of 2015 when the lake flooded...twice. The year of the no wake 4th of July the total flow for Bagnell was 3.45 trillion gallons, which we have already exceeded. The Osage River Basin below Bagnell has been scoured.

Anyways, it's an impressive amount of water, so I've done a mid-year info-graphic for perspective. Again, this is just for the first 7 months, we have a lot more water to go until the end of the year.

Here's the candlestick graph for the month with lake max high, low, biggest daily change and max daily flow...

Flow scale in billions of gallons

And the full hourly detail.
Flow scale is in Cubic Feet Second (cfs)

And the monthly summary for the year so far. Notice that the total flow bar is nearly at the top of the graph. I've created this scale to this extreme high of 1000 billion based on the events of 2015. I didn't think we'd hit it again so soon. Just...wow.

Monday, July 22, 2019

How Expensive Are Homes on the Lake of the Ozarks?

From Redbook Magazine Online here are the top most expensive lakes to live on in the U.S. (from lowest to highest)

Boone Lake TN                     $1.37M avg
Lake Martin AL                     $2.95M avg
Lake Burton GA                    $3.02M avg
Long Lake MN                      $3.13M avg
Smith Mountain Lake VA      $3.4M avg
White Rock Lake TX            $4.3M avg
Lake Pend Oreille, IA            $4.48M avg
Fort Loudoun Lake TN         $4.7M avg
Lake Pontchartrain LA          $4.7M avg
Lake George NY                   $5.32 M avg
Lake Champlain                    $5.7M
Lake Michigan                      $6.35 M avg
Lake Travis TX                     $10.86 M average
Lake Austin TX                    $12.9 Million Avg
Lake Washington WA           $45 Million example price
#1 Lake Tahoe                      $75 Million example price

Anyone who has visited the Lake of the Ozarks is typically amazed at the number of homes along its vast shoreline. Visitors thoughts inevitably turn too wondering just how much it costs to buy a home here, or if it might be a good investment. For the most part, home investments on the lake are like anywhere else, but with an interesting twist on the old location-location-location rule. The primary location factor for a lake home is of course waterfront. As the decades have passed since the lake was formed lake property has gone through many changes, campgrounds of the 50s and 60s soon succumbed to condominiums and homes, while larger lots with modest summer cabins became full sized second homes in the 80s and 90s. Shawnee Bend, once mostly pristine forested shoreline became an opportunity to build entire communities once the new bridge made access more reasonable from the east side. Because of these often slow but sometimes rapid changes it's not unusual to see homes approaching the seven figure mark adjacent to a home half the price. With some area exceptions such as Shawnee Bend shoreline homes are usually a mix of homes ranging from summer cabins to multi-family "McMansions".

When it comes to lake homes, the waterfront is every bit as much of a factor to price as the home itself.

Are lakefront homes on the Lake of the Ozarks "expensive" relative to other lakes in the U.S.? The story mentioned at the start of this post was picked up by Redbook magazine and MSN, but I was a little dismayed to not see the Lake of the Ozarks on the list. I know many lakes across the country, and there is no question that the Lake of the Ozarks is the most developed I know of, so how could it not make the list? We all marvel at many of the homes on the lake and the clear opulence they demonstrate, so the report would seem to indicate there are lakes that command even higher prices? After some quick digging I discovered the source of the article's information and downloaded the entire report. Turns out, "most expensive" is literally what was meant by the news articles, but that is not the whole story and the report from which the list was created is far more interesting in detail..

But first, back to that list of the most expensive lakes in the U.S.. If we define most expensive as being average price, the Lake of the Ozarks doesn't make the cut. Sure, we have multi-million dollar homes but only about 1% of Lake of the Ozarks homes are valued at $2 million or more. This is in comparison to the most expensive lake, Butler Lake in Florida, with 50% of its homes priced at +$2Million. But again, that doesn't tell the whole story since this list does not factor the number of homes on any given lake. Consider that if there is a small lake with a few multi-million dollar homes then it can likely boast at being THE most expensive lake to live on. What is the real question we should be asking? Real estate is very much a supply and demand industry and any lake with only a few homes to sell is quite a different market than one with many thousands. As an investment, in order to understand the value of a home we must take a look at the lake's total market value, the combined total of all the homes and property on a lake.

Let's go back to our most expensive lake for example. The total market value for Butler Lake, is about $160 million dollars, and this includes available land. So how does that compare to Lake of the Ozarks? The total market value for the Lake of the Ozarks is $392 million dollars, well over twice Butler Lakes total value. Unsurprisingly the Lake of the Ozarks is the largest lake market in the state of Missouri, followed by Table Rock Lake with a respectable market value of $252 million dollars. The lake with the largest total market value in the U.S. is Lake Michigan at $1.3 BILLION dollars. Surprised? Don't be. Remember we are talking about lakes, not beachfront property on the ocean and lake Michigan is a HUGE lake, with 500 miles more shoreline and hosts many major metropolitan cities like Chicago and Milwaukee. In terms of total market value the Lake of the Ozarks ranks as the 8th largest market for lake homes in the U.S. Excluding available property, meaning lakes that are more fully developed, Lake of the Ozarks ranks 5th in the U.S. for largest market.

So let's take a look at the numbers for lakes within the state of Missouri itself. When we ask the question all over again as to which lake is the most expensive, the Lake of the Ozarks comes in second with an average home price of $363K compared to Lake Springfield's average of $475K. Again though, the number of homes is a factor as the Lake of the Ozarks dominates as the largest home and property market of all the lakes in Missouri, with Lake Springfield not even making the top 5 in total market value despite it's "most expensive" status.

Here's a breakdown of the housing market for the three largest lake home markets in the state.

The Lake of the Ozarks cannot boast being the most expensive lake in the U.S. but that is a good thing in my opinion from a real estate investment point of view. Our lake can boast a healthy variety of homes and prices to make for a vibrant market and cater to just about anyone's price range. Like any real estate purchase a persons specific needs are what is important and whether it be a condominium, summer cabin, second home, or retirement McMansion, buyers can find just about anything they need.