Lake level drops, stability to come

By Lyndsie Kiebert
Reader Staff

Lake Pend Oreille peaked at 2,064.2 feet on Wednesday, May 30, and then quickly dropped below summer operating level (between 2,062 and 2,062.5 feet) as of Tuesday evening. 

Wednesday trends showed the lake steadily dropping toward the 2,062 mark. Army Corps Water Management civil engineer Logan Osgood-Zimmerman said Wednesday morning that the corps was taking the Albeni Falls Dam off of free flow — in other words, closing the gates — and would likely have flows regulated by afternoon in an effort to bump the lake back up to summer operating levels.

“The inflows are coming down faster than … how fast we’re able to decrease outflows, so we expect to go a little below summer pool, but not for long,” she said.

After talk of this flood season rivaling 1997 (2,065.74 feet) and 2011 (2,064.29 feet), we can officially say the latter was more accurate. 

However, the lake historically crests during the first or second weeks of June, so a May 30 peak is early. This is due to the early spike in temperatures creating aggressive runoff. As a result, boaters should be aware that Lake Pend Oreille and connected waterways may see increased debris.

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