Garrett’s Blog: The Drought of 2012 & Beaver Lake

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With 2012 coming to an end in the next few weeks, I thought I would take a look back at rainfall totals and how they compare to previous years. 5NEWS Viewer, Brett Ralston, sent in pictures from Beaver Lake over the weekend, which I find particularly interesting. This blog will take a look at rainfall totals and also at Beaver Lake’s current water level.

Rainfall totals are low and the regional drought is nearing record levels. 2012 will be at least in the top 5 driest on record for both Fayetteville and Fort Smith. If no more rain falls between now and December 31st, both will rank the 2nd driest on record.

First a look this year compared to other years. This year stands in stark contrast to the last 5 years on both sides of the hill…

Fayetteville Drake Field

  • 2008 57.92″
  • 2009 50.54″
  • 2010 42.23″
  • 2011 56.07″
  • 2012 28.78″


The Driest Years on Record in Fayetteville:

  • 1st 1963: 21.03″
  • 2nd 2012 28.78″
  • 3rd 1976 29.08″

Fort Smith Regional Airport

  • 2008 61.02″
  • 2009 56.46″
  • 2010 35.27″
  • 2011 46.56″
  • 2012 24.64″


The Driest Years on Record in Fort Smith:

  • 1st  1917 19.80″
  • 2nd 2012 24.64″
  • 3rd  1936 24.94″

beaverlakelevelNext, a look at Beaver Lake. According to the US Corp of Engineers, Beaver Lake is at 1109ft. A full lake is 1120ft. So, we’re essentially 11ft below a full lake level. (Lake levels aren’t measure by how deep they are but how high the water level is in elevation.)

This graph with data shows the lake level decline this year. It’s nomal to see a drop off in the fall and summer months, but these levels are the lowest going back to 2008.

The pictures taken by Brett Ralston (and also illustrated by the photographer with normal levels) show the extremely low levels at Beaver Lake.



The latest Drought Monitor also shows the ongoing drought in our area and unfortunately there is no seasonal trend that looks to provide long term relief for the next several months. The drought is expected to continue.