Lake Chelan annual operating range and lake level history
Lake Chelan draws thousands of visitors and residents to its shores each year. Whether the purpose is to fish, swim, boat or simply meander along its shores, the lake is a popular gathering place. It’s also a vital part of the Chelan County PUD network of hydroelectric resources. Though the current forecast for 2015 is less than average, residents and visitors to Lake Chelan will find conditions favorable for summer recreation. Click here for the Northwest River Forecast Center water supply forecast for Lake Chelan.
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Lake levels are expected to be within the forecasted operating range most of the time.
Actual lake levels may be higher or lower than the forecasted operating range.
Future Operation (updated Feb. 19):
Snowpack accumulation in the Chelan drainage basin has been dismal since the beginning of February and was 63 percent of average on March 18. The April 1 to July 31 water supply forecast is for 70 percent of average, and is likely to change after the third snow survey of the year is done at the end of March. Snowpack is forecast to accumulate at below-average rates for the rest of the season.
Lake levels have been higher than average this winter due to near record inflows – mainly due to rain and snowmelt – from October through February. The lowest lake levels of the winter are likely to occur in mid- to late-April, and could range from 1,087 to 1,092 feet above sea level. A continued combination of warm temperatures and early snow melt may mean lake level in the near future could be at the higher end of this range. Typically, the lowest lake levels of the year occur toward the end of March or early April.
Based on current forecasts, it is anticipated that lake levels will continue to be above average this spring and license target elevations can be achieved. Operating plans call for generating at maximum available capacity through March and April.
For Those on the Go
A direct link to current lake level readings is available using smart phones and tablets by scanning a QR (Quick Response) code. The code is available on posters at boat launches and marinas and rack cards distributed throughout the Chelan-Manson-Chelan Falls community.
Lake Level Management
Lake Chelan is the reservoir for the Lake Chelan Hydro Project. Managing the level of popular Lake Chelan requires balancing seven objectives in the operating license that together provide recreation, protect fish, reduce erosion and restore year-round flows to the Chelan River.
Managing the level of the lake is not an exact science. It involves a series of forecasts and calculations, with the added uncertainty of weather. However, updated tools and additional data will help us provide information that is more useful for residents and visitors.
Targeting a Range
Chelan PUD estimates that Lake Chelan can be operated within the above Current Operating Range most of the time, and meet the District’s seven license operating objectives and target elevations in most years.
We are committed to letting you know about any changes in expected lake levels as soon as we can so residents and visitors know what to expect. We welcome your comments or questions about Lake Chelan levels.
The District expects to maintain the lake level within a range of 1,084 to 1,100 feet above sea level during most years. In extremely wet years, the lake level could be lowered to 1,083 feet above sea level, or lower (the license minimum is 1,079 feet above sea level), as more room is needed to capture increased runoff. Factors that can affect lake level management include:
We are sensitive to the needs of the many users of Lake Chelan. Below are the elevations at the bottom of each concrete boat ramp. As lake levels fluctuate, boaters are asked to take these elevations into consideration before launching a boat.
|Elevation at |
End of Boat Ramp
|Chelan Riverwalk Park||Chelan PUD||Chelan||2 concrete ramps||1080.5 feet|
|Lake Chelan State Park||WA State Parks||Chelan||1 concrete ramp||1090.0 feet|
|City of Chelan||Chelan||2 concrete ramps||1090.0 feet|
|Manson Bay Park||Manson Parks||Manson||1 concrete ramp||1077.9 feet|
|Old Mill Park||Manson Parks||Manson||4 concrete ramps||1082.9 feet|
|25-Mile Creek State Park||WA State Parks||Chelan||2 concrete ramps||1093.0 feet|