Monday, March 17, 2008

Elephant Butte and Heron Lake Update

As of 5:00 p.m. mdt Monday, March 17, 2008, Elephant Butte Lake has begun to receive enough spring runoff to offset water being released for irrigation.

Elephant Butte is at 4,338.54 feet above benchmark, with 485,767 acre feet of water.
It has rising about an inch and 1,300 a.f. in the past 24 hours, and risen a quarter inch and 255 a.f. in the past three days. Since the low point last October 25, the lake has risen 14.14 feet and 162,277 a.f. Long Point will become an island when the lake rises another few feet, perhaps in April.

Heron Lake remains covered in almost a foot of ice. It is at elevation 7,144.61 feet, with 197,790 acre feet, and is up an inch in the past three days. The Azotea Tunnel has been flowing at 73 to 78 cubic feet per second in the past 71 hours, with Willow Creek flowing at 91 to 315 c.f.s. The road to the marina is covered in eight inches of icy, crusty snow; even a four-wheel drive vehicle would probably need snow tires or chains to negotiate it, and part of the trail down to the marina is blocked by two feet of snow. But, the piers are mostly clear of snow.

Buoy 2-1 is about 10 feet from shore, in about two or three feet of ice and water. Buoy 2-3 is about 20 feet from shore, in about four feet of ice and water. Buoy 2-4 is about a foot above the lake level and twenty feet from the lake; buoy 2-5 is about eight feet above the level of the lake and fifty feet from the lake. Current predictions are for Heron Lake to be 75% full with 300,000 acre feet of water as of May 31, 2008.

The heavy winter snows were very hard on residents of the Chama area. The roofs collapsed at the local grocery store, at a church, and for several houses, garages, and outbuildings. Excess snow loading also contributed to the Brazos fire station exploding, with the sad death of its former fire chief. Snow removal and disaster relief efforts have been expensive and difficult. We hope that the coming summer will be a good one for the area, and we hope that the sailing club will be able to help out by hosting some well-attended events.


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