Our region's rivers are running pretty low.
This graph may be hard to read, so you may have to increase the size of text and pictures on your screen. The green dots show rivers that are at 'normal' levels. The orange, maroon, and red dots show very low levels on the rivers. Then the blues show above average levels on the rivers. Notice most rivers are in the normal range, but there are more rivers that are low compared to those that are high.
Why is that? Well our region is down about two to four inches on rain for the year. It may not sound like much but it makes the rivers run lower than average here in the middle of summer.
This has an outstanding impact on Lake Champlain! Remember this?
This was Lake Champlain's water level at the King Street Ferry Dock in Burlington, Vermont courtesy the USGS. The record-setting flooding was part of a two-month-long duration that the lake was above flood stage. Now it may be hard to compare it here, because the side axis is different, but here's a look at this year.
The lake only reached to about 97.3 feet above sea level! That's compared to reaching 103.2 feet just one year prior. Since then the lake has been getting lower and lower, as it usually does in the summer.
However we're actually below average for this time of year! It amazes me to see the difference between this year and last year. As of July 31 here are the stats:
Average level: 95.98'
July 31, 2012: 94.77'
Last year: 96.19'
So there's quite a difference between last year and this year too.
Typically the lowest months are still ahead of us. September and October average the lowest levels on Lake Champlain, while April and May yield the highest averages. That's because of the rainy spring months and snow melt from the mountains.
This image is hard to read too, but shows the annual variance between months along Lake Champlain. If we continue to follow this trend that the lake usually takes, we could see levels far down into the 94 foot range, if not higher 93's.
I notice this difference from 2011 to 2012 when I go to the shoreline and see the watermarks along rocks, trees, etc. It's amazing to see the lake more than eight feet lower in a year!
The first three pictures are courtesy USGS, the last one from the U.S. National Weather Service - Burlington.
-Meteorologist Steve Glazier