Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Permit and Address Dock Signage Requirements

Ameren Missouri requires that all docks and dock modifications post the permit number and street address on the structure. Look at around the lake and you'll see different types of signs of different sizes.  In short, the sign needs to be whatever size it needs to be to accommodate your specific information using 3" letters.  You don't need any official type of backboard as long as it contrasts the lettering, although you should be mindful that any material will be exposed to the elements and weathering.  Most people seem to be using white plastic panels available in the signage section at the local home supply store and simple black letters.  No evening lighting is required...yet.

Make sure you use your established 911 address as this information is used for the response from law enforcement and emergency personnel. The sign is to be mounted on the lake side of the dock in a location most visible from the cove or channel.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A No-Wake Lake Annual Weekend?

The experience over this past 4th of July holiday with the governor ordering no-wake enforcement on the entire lake, has generated a lot of talk around boating circles over the idea of making such a restriction an annual event.

It has it's appeal.

7:00pm July 3rd, 2015 8mm

I've paddled out to the main channel before but only in the off-season.  Although weekdays are far less busy, it is still too dangerous to go any more than a few feet from shore in a kayak, but not this evening.  I saw people on flotillas of water toys just enjoying the water and well beyond shore. While some boats were out, mostly obeying the wake restriction, the lake was serene and almost ghostly quiet. The tension in the air was as palpable as the humidity, between the pent up energy from thousands of holiday visitors, and the anxiety of the home and business owners worrying the wake restriction would be lifted too soon. Forbearance at odds with exuberance on a regional scale.

So, what about this idea of setting aside a weekend or two out of the season as lake wide "wake-free" time?  As I said, it has its appeal.  Pontoon boats ruled that evening as getting around at a decent speed wake free is what they do.  The steady buzz of wetbikes, the punctuating roar of racing engines, and the steady thrum of hundreds of boats struggling down the channel was conspicuous by its absence.  It was tranquil and serene.  What was there not too like?

Did it hurt business? I think the jury is still out on that one.  Certainly some folks may have changed their plans, but the weekend seemed to be as popular as ever.  By Saturday evening of the 4th, the serenity was long gone.

Could it be done?  Sure!  But it would take a concerted effort by all authorities involved to do it, and enforcement would be difficult.  The only real way to know if it would be successful or not economically would be to try it.  I would think maybe the weekend before the Memorial holiday, or the weekend after Labor Day would be a good pilot run.  The lake is still inviting at those times, but not quite as busy.  "No-Wake-Lake" weekends might be a great way to open and close the season.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Ghost Ship

In early April, 2015, after some intense stormy weather, this boat appeared off the point at Lazy Gators.

Pictures from Towboat U.S.

It seems amazing that a surface storm can churn the water so much, and at such depth, that things like this suddenly surface. Actually, it really doesn't take that much energy when submerged artifacts are right on the edge of being buoyant.  They effectively loll around the bottom until forces are sufficient to bring them to the surface long enough to be blown to shore.  This is how treasure is often discovered in the ocean right after hurricanes. This boat looks circa 80's judging by the motif. I bet the old owner is going to be surprised when he's told his boat has been found.

Saturday, July 04, 2015

Flood Watch 2015 - The End

8am, July 4th.  Update- The no-wake restriction has been lifted.

Lake levels are now at 660.30', effectively on the high side of "normal". Discharge remains over 40,000cfs so the floodgates are still open.  Truman Dam has been holding water since this event started and with river levels dropping it's likely they will allow some badly needed release for Truman Lake.

My guess would be continued discharge above 40Kcfs to handle Truman's water but Lake levels should continue down very slowly for the rest of the day.  I'm also betting the governor will release the no-wake restriction by this afternoon.

The flood event is pretty much over as far as the Lake is concerned, but it's effects will likely linger the rest of the summer for some folks.  This is the last update I'll do on lake levels until the normal end of month review.

Everybody get ready to get back in the pool.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Flood Watch 2015 - HD Drone Video

This video has been making the rounds, a gut-wrenching bird's eye view. My guess is that this is from the Camdenton area where "gentle slope" property is more common.

The next video is from the suspension bridge that crosses the Grand Auglaize Creek southwest of Brumley. The bridge is near where the creek flows into the Lake of the Ozarks at the State Park.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Governor Nixon Declares the Entire Lake a No-Wake Zone

The entire Lake of the Ozarks is currently under a no-wake restriction. Not since 1993 (yeah, *that* year) has such an order been given.  With the lake cresting at nearly 663', the second highest ever, damage to surrounding property and shoreline would be incalculable if normal boat traffic was allowed while the lake remains high.

It appears that if Ameren can get the lake back around 661', which could be by Saturday at the rate it's going, the ban will be lifted.

2:30pm, July 3, 2015

Flood Watch 2015 - 8pm Update

8pm - Delayed from assessing my own damage.  Jeez what a mess.  Lake levels continue slowly down but the forecast looks decent enough, with some rain in the forecast but no downpours.  If discharge continues, we'll get below 662 by morning.

No, the Lake Will Not Be Closed Due to Flooding This 4th of July

Update: Governor declares the entire lake a "no-wake" zone.

While flooding presents major problems for property owners on the lake, Ameren and the Missouri Water Patrol have both confirmed that they will not be forcing a lake-wide ban on boating this weekend, as they did in 1986. However, there may be expanded no-wake zones and all boaters are generally asked to idle until the lake reaches normal levels again.

Besides, there's going to be a lot of debris in the water this weekend and speeding along is a surprisingly effective way of finding it with an outdrive.

Flood Watch - Osage River Historical Data Reference

This is from the USGS website and shows today's and yesterdays river height in comparison to the top four historical levels.  The 1943 data point is probably the worst incident, when Bagnell Dam was almost topped and was at maximum flow, over 200,000cfs.

Flood Watch 2015 - River Gauge at St.Thomas

Here is the graph from the USGS Hydrologic unit at the Hwy B bridge near St.Thomas Missouri. This is the last measuring unit before the Osage River meets the Missouri River, about 15 miles from the confluence.  Flood level is the 23' red horizontal line, and likely to be reached within a few hours.

The Flood of 2015

Update:  Things are back to normal.  Here's my final post.

July 1, 08:00: Floodgates are open, but not all the way.  Why?  Lake levels are as high as they've been in recent memory, now at 662.34ft and still rising.  Damage around the lake is already well underway and when the boats start moving in earnest during the holiday weekend things will get very bad indeed. Unless Ameren cranks open the floodgates much more, it is unlikely we will be back at normal levels within the next 24 hours, but the Osage can only take so much more.  Flooding in the Jefferson City area downstream is already pronounced.

All 12 Floodgates are open
Here's a chart of the last four days.  I left in the last two days of June as reference.  I'll be updating this throughout the day.

Notice that at 8am, things begin deviating from the average. The rain was coming down pretty hard and by 10am Ameren opened the floodgates 10% of capacity.  Judging by the current discharge of nearly 80,000 cubic feet per second, they've opened them to about 30% capacity since. At fully open, the Bagnell Dam is capable of releasing over 200,000cfs, but that hasn't happened since the 1940's and the effect was disastrous downriver.  The current flow rate is predictably devastating to the Osage River, rising nearly 12 feet in the past 24 hours.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Early Aerial Movie of the Lake of the Ozarks

I don't know where these guys dug up this footage but I wish there was more of it.  There's a brief flyby of Bagnell Dam under construction and an amazing shot of the area around the original Grand Glaize bridge before any development was done.  Cool vid!

June 2015 Lake Levels,Discharge, and Osage River Levels

June is looking like it will go into the climate books as the wettest on record and the effects on the Lake of the Ozarks can be seen in the level charts.  Despite downriver flooding pressure to minimize the release of water from Bagnell Dam, Ameren allowed full turbine flow (green line) nearly 24/7 but avoided resorting to opening flood gates (video).

A reduction in turbine flow starting on the 16th was followed by an abrupt rise in lake levels that briefly went over the 660' mark in the early hours of the 18th.  Renewed maximum turbine flow quickly reduced lake levels but overshot the average by June 20th, again prompting the reduction of turbine flow to re-raise. By month's end, levels stabilized to the five year average while turbine flow still remains high.  With July starting off as another wet month, it is likely Ameren will have to remain nimble with their hands on the valve.

Figure 1

The effect of the relentless turbine flow (whether generating power or not) on the Osage River is seen in the tailwater chart below, expectantly matching turbine flow in figure 1.  While the river remained very high, changes in levels were limited to just a few feet.

Figure 2