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High waters across the board: Some Kandiyohi County lakes set records

WILLMAR — June rains swelled lakes in Kandiyohi County to new record levels.

In some cases, the waters were so high that those reading the gauges had to reset them. The gauges were underwater, said Ethan Jenzen, regional hydrologist with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources in Spicer.

Recorded water levels on Foot, Eagle, Nest, and Calhoun lakes this June set all-time records. Lake level readings date back to the 1940s and late 1930s. The previous high-water records on these lakes were set in 1965 and 1986.

Fortunately, none of the 2014 lake levels exploded the previous records. They were usually an inch or two above the all-time high marks.

Nonetheless, they were certainly high enough to cause erosion and problems for property owners. The county imposed a no-wake advisory on all of the county’s lakes for much of June. It wasn’t lifted until last weekend.

High water was the rule: Water levels were uniformly above “normal” high-water levels on most lakes, Jenzen pointed out.

Most of the records were made on June 19 and 20, or a few days after some of the heaviest rain events.

Where the records did not fall, they were close. The water level on Green came within 0.3 of a foot of the all-time high. Diamond Lake came within 0.2 of a foot and the Games/Norway Lakes system were 0.25 of a foot of the all-time high.

Statewide, June has gone down as a record-setter for precipitation. The June rains proved more problematic for lakes than the high waters often associated with spring snow melt.

The waters of April and May generally rise at a slower, and more predictable pace. June brought heavy, sudden downpours that bounced lake levels up fast, Jenzen noted.

The area experienced higher than normal precipitation through the spring, and that had set the stage for trouble when heavy rains continued in June. The headwater basins, including large pools such as the Lake Monongalia area, were full. There was no opportunity to hold back the additional waters from June rains.

Lake levels are receding this month, and that is encouraging, he added. Some of the lakes are anywhere from 4 to 5 to as many as 8 inches lower than the high water levels recorded in June.

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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