Dale Hollow Lake could reach record levels

Marinas are still open as they battle high water

By THOMAS P. WEAVER
HORIZON Editor

CELINA-Water levels here on Dale Hollow Lake continued to rise Monday disrupting operations at local marinas where parts of their facilities are now underwater, but they are still open for business.

The level sat at nearly 659 feet above sea level at HORIZON press time and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers alerted marinas earlier that morning to possibly expect it to rise to 661.5 or higher–which would be a record level for the reservoir since it’s opening in 1943.

It has only reached 659 or higher three times in history, according to historical data from the Corps website.

The top three highest recorded levels are:

• 659.45 in 1962,

• 660.82 in 1984, and

• the current standing all-time high of 660.98 in 1975.

The projection released by the Corps is contingent upon weather and is subject to change, but the possible record level has marina operators scrambling to keep their facilities operational.

All are having problems accessing their docks with the rising water, but many are battling other probelms, including:

• Dale Hollow Marina currently has several feet of water in the bottom level of their lakeside lodge and the high water has made access difficult;

• Horse Creek Resort’s normal access road is totally submerged and their motel/lodge is surrounded by water, but the launching ramp and marina is still accessible; and

• Cedar Hill Resort’s swimming pool has now become part of the lake, but due to their hillside location no cabins or boat ramps are affected.

At the projected level, the lake will be over 10 feet higher than its normal summer pool–something never seen before.

No water had been released as of Monday because conditions downstream would not allow it.

Dale Hollow releases flow into the Cumberland River, which feeds Lake Barkley–a lake sitting at record levels. From there the water continues to flow into the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, which are both above flood stage due to an onslaught of rain over the last couple of weeks that has been widely reported in the national news media.

Because of the conditions there, no water will be released from Dale Hollow soon, according to a Corps news release from April 28.

“All three hydropower units have been taken off-line (at Dale Hollow Dam),” the release said. “The only water being released is that for operation of the station service hydropower unit and the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery.

“This is an extremely low release rate for Dale Hollow. This special operation is being done to preserve storage in Lake Barkley to support the ongoing Ohio River flood control operation.”

Besides the lake, the Obey River below the dam is also being affected, but in an opposite way. The levels there are at a bare minimum, with the river being nearly unnavigable in places like just below Moody Boat Ramp a few miles downstream of the lake.

The release also addressed the conditions marinas are dealing with.

“There are some inconveniences for visitors to Dale Hollow Lake, such as high water on launching ramps, beaches unusable, access ramps to courtesy floats underwater, and campsites and parking lots covered with water,” it said. “If you plan to visit an area on Dale Hollow for launching or camping, please phone the location to determine facility availability, access and safety.”

To make conditions worse, storm clouds threatened as of HORIZON press time Monday, which could’ve possibly dumped more rainfall into the lake. The same system had already added to the misery near the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, compounding the situation there.

Besides conditions downstream, record rainfall here over the last few months contributed to the possible record highs on Dale Hollow Lake.

According to a blog on WeatherUnderground.com updated regularly by a local weather enthusiast, the area here has received nearly 20 inches of rain in the last two months. It also said for the last three months the area here has gotten over 11 inches above the normal amount of rainfall.

For more information about the local weather, read the blog at www.wunderground.com/blog/dawgwriter/show.html and for lake level updates and more about Dale Hollow Lake, go to the Corps local website at www.lrn.usace.army.mil/op/dal/rec/.

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