Will Lake Mead Water Levels Rise Again? What We Know About El Niño

Last week, Lake Mead water levels started to even out after experiencing a steep increase for the last five months, but it isn’t expected to last for long.

After years of drought, Lake Mead, which is in Nevada and Arizona, reached drastically low levels last summer, prompting fears that a dead pool—the point where water levels are too low to flow downstream—would occur much sooner than originally thought.

Opinion: Are the Rains Helping Lake Mead? What the Question Says About Our Water Outlook

You can understand our optimism. It hadn’t rained in Phoenix for four months. Other parts of the West were hot and dry. Then came the big one: Hurricane Hilary. While rainfall totals were disappointing in Phoenix, the storm did dump quite a few inches on California and Nevada. Areas near Lake Mead got pelted, leading a bunch of folks to presume that the nation’s largest water reservoir would get a decent boost from the rainfall. But that’s not how it works.

Lake Mead is on the Rise Right Now, but the Future is a Different Story

Maybe you’ve heard that Lake Mead is on the rise again. It’s up a little more than it was a year ago, about 20 feet higher than where it was at this time last year. They released more from Lake Powell upstream in April. Plus, we had a very snowy winter. Snowmelt from the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains feeds the Colorado River. But everyone who lives in Las Vegas or Northern Nevada knows that this all just a mirage. One wet winter does not overturn more than 20 years of drought.