Lake levels soaring after heavy rains
Runoff from heavy rains in the Cumberland River Basin is pushing the level of Lake Cumberland upward to the highest point since the seven-year rehabilitation of Wolf Creek Dam was completed.
The lake is predicted to crest Sunday night at 732.4 feet above sea level, according to Tom Hale, operations manager for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Eastern Kentucky Area. That level is about 9.4 feet above the treeline.
As of 1 p.m. Thursday, the lake level was 729.85. The water had risen 0.15 of a foot since 7 a.m. Thursday, considerably slower than the more than 3 feet rise during the previous 24 hours. Some 21,000 cubic feet of water per second are being released through Wolf Creek Dam.
The high crest won’t impact any recreational areas, Hale said. The water may reach some parking spaces, but won’t get into camping spots, he said.
Main problem is debris, Hale said. “We’re working as hard as we can to clear the debris but it’s ahead of us,” he conceded.
Hale cautioned boaters to watch out for debris on the water. “We’re going to put out warning signs to remind boaters,” he said.
The lake level has been nearly this high twice since rehabilitation began, Hale reminded. “It reached about 731 feet in 2011 while work was still under way at the dam, Hale recalls. Just recently, in April this year, the level topped out at 730.5 feet, he noted.
Eastern Kentucky was devastated by flash flooding this past week. Some of this runoff will end up in the Cumberland River and then flow into Lake Cumberland.