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Launch ramp wait times extend past 4 hours at Lake Mead for Memorial Day

Drought Explainer Water Shortage
Posted at 5:56 AM, May 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 08:58:52-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer which means Lake Mead is going to be busy.

This year, boaters can expect the experience to be a bit different as the lake continues to shrink in size.

Its latest measurements showed the water level to be below 1,050 feet.

On Monday morning, signs at Hemenway Harbor showed that wait times could extend past 4 hours. Hemenway Harbor is currently the only boat ramp open for people to use after all the others closed because of low water levels.

Park rangers say boaters are going around the boat launch ramps to get in faster, but they’re running into a big problem.

“More people are trying to get out closer to the edge of the water and they’re sinking a lot faster,” said Jacob Schmidt, president of the Southern Nevada Off Road Recovery.

Schmidt said newly exposed shorelines have over 80 years worth of saturation which means cars, boats, and even people could sink.

“This is going to be an ongoing problem until the lake starts rising again. Unfortunately that’s not in the near future at all,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt says currently, he and his team are doing about 17 recoveries a day.

Hemenway Harbor was the only boat ramp open for people to use after all the others closed because of low water levels, however, later Memorial Day evening, a twitter post from Lake Mead's official account says that Willow Beach has been reopened to the public.