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. Click here for the Northwest River Forecast Center water supply forecast for Lake Chelan.
Graph lines can be turned "on" and "off" by clicking on the legend names above.
Zoom function is enabled by clicking and dragging the mouse pointer over a section of the graph
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.
Click here for lake levels over the last 10 days
Future Operation (updated July 26):
The “Oct. 1 Forecasted Operating Range” in the graph above represents the annual forecasted Operating Range for the water year (October 2015 – September 2016). The “Current Forecasted Operating Range” in the graph above represents the most recent forecasted operating range between now and the end of the water year (July 26, 2016 – Sept. 30, 2016).
The District’s final April – July water supply forecast is 116 percent of average.
Lake Chelan’s elevation continues to be at or above 1,099.5 feet above sea level (1,100 feet is license maximum) due to continued higher than expected inflows at this point in the runoff period. Measurable snowpack has been gone from the District’s highest Snotel site since the first of July. Lake levels are expected to begin decreasing slightly in the next few weeks, staying at or above the target operating curve through September. Lake Chelan has exceeded all minimum target elevations so far this year and we expect to meet all remaining minimum target elevations this year by reducing generation as necessary.
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:
- High runoff due to a wet water year
- Early or late snow melt
- Project operation and/or maintenance needs
- Energy market conditions
Public Boat Ramps at Lake Chelan
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.
Upper lake boat launch sites map
Lower lake boat launch sites map