Local NewsDrought Crisis


Experts say snowpacks could help the water levels at Lake Mead, boaters remain skeptical

Lake Powell graph
Posted at 6:39 PM, Feb 28, 2023

BOULDER CITY, Nev. (KTNV) — It has been a wet month in the west as February comes to a close, and even more storms are expected in March.

That rain and heavy snowfall in the Rockies could bring Lake Mead an increase in water levels, since, according to experts, there's more snow than normal in the mountains that feed into the Colorado River.

MORE: Boaters and businesses adapting to falling water levels at Lake Mead

Boaters at the Lake Mead marina told KTNV that it is devastating to see how low the water levels are, but the vice president of operations says this year, they are hopeful.

The Bureau of Reclamation originally predicted that water levels would continue to decrease but as a result of the recent snowfall in the Colorado region, we could see the water levels go up.

"It is really disheartening," said Lenny Mayorga, a resident of Boulder City since 1992. He visits Lake Mead regularly witnessing the bathtub rings getting bigger each year. He spends his time at the lake with his family, he also used to have a boat.

However, he got rid of it as water levels got lower. This is something many boaters have done, but a significant amount of snow may help bring some of the water back.

"Those higher snowpacks are going to affect how Lake Powell is and Lake Mead," says the vice president of Lake Mead Marina's operations, Bruce Nelson. He and his team have been following the snowfall very closely.

Nelson showed KTNV a graph of the snowpack in the upper Colorado river basin, the line this year is already 31 percent over the 30-year historic average. This means we have surpassed the last year's peak well before when it normally hits around the first week of April, and even more, snow is on the way.

"If you look at the projections and what the Colorado river is capable of and the amount of snow that continues to fall," said hydrologist at the Colorado Basin River Forecast Center, Paul Miller. "If it keeps happening the sky is the limit, it could really bolster us."

RELATED: Recent snowfalls may slow water level decline at Lake Mead

Miller said the basin status map shows all areas that feed into the Colorado River are showing a snowpack that is well above average.

"We have seen a significant snowpack accumulation this season much better than what we have seen in more than few years."

However, Mayorga says he is worried it is not going to mean much.

"That's been heaven sent and it's good, but it's just going to go back down unfortunately," Mayorga said. "We are taking too much water."

Miller says they will provide the Bureau of Reclamation a forecast by Friday, so they may release new data and a prediction of our water levels by mid-March.