Lake Realty

Lowest Lake Norman Lake Levels

If you are thinking about buying a Lake Norman waterfront or listing a Lake Norman waterfront home, you may be wondering, ‘how low does the lake level get?’

You would think this would be easy information to find.  You can easily access the 13 month history on Duke Energy’s website but it does not provide data beyond that.   After googling and searching through old news articles without a definitive answer, I reached out to Duke Energy’s Hydro Operations to get the answers.

So what is the lowest lake level on record for Lake Norman?  Drum roll please…….

 

The lowest level on record for Lake Norman was 93.1 ft. in 2007. 

I want to point out that the lake level is based on a reading of a 100 ft at full pond which corresponds to the 760 typographical line.   Think of it this way, at 93.1 ft the lake was 6.9 feet lower then when it is full.

The chart below displays the lake levels from January 2008 to October 2019.  The blue lines are the actual levels and the red lines are the target levels.  Notice that it only dipped below 95’ in 2 of the last 12 years.  The lowest reading for those 2 years, October 2014 and January 2016, were during the second driest period on record when they bottomed out below 94’.  It’s important to note that lowest reading for each year are typically during the winter months when the target levels set by Duke Energy are lower.

 

Lake Norman Lake Level Update

On 11/19/2023 the lake dropped to 94.1, which is the lowest I’ve personally seen it.  Drought conditions were the cause of the low lake levels.  It dropped below 97′ in August and continued dropping until November due to lack of rain.  There were a couple hurricanes this season that were supposed to bring rainfall to our area.  Duke may have let the lake level drop in anticipation and then we didn’t get as much rain as predicted.

Duke said this on their website.

On Nov. 1, 2023, the Catawba-Wateree River Basin entered Stage 1 of the Low Inflow Protocol (LIP) due to continued dry conditions and lack of rainfall in the area. The Catawba-Wateree Drought Management Advisory Group (DMAG), which consists of representatives from Duke Energy, large water users, and federal and state resource agencies, is closely following conditions in the basin. As these dry weather conditions continue, the community is asked to be mindful of its water use and to consider conserving energy which also saves water. Residents using water from a Duke Energy lake for landscape irrigation are asked to limit watering to Tuesdays and Saturdays. To ensure the safety of boaters and protect property, some boat ramps will close temporarily due to declining lake levels.

Lake Norman Water Level History

For many, what’s most important is the lake levels during the recreational months.  From mid-March to October the target lake levels are from 96 ft to 98 ft.  I’ve added another chart below that marks the lake level during July. See the green lines.  Notice that in the last 12 summers the lake level has only gone below 98 ft during July during one year.  That year was 2014 during the dry period noted above.

I also found it interesting that the variation in the lake levels was a lot less over the last three years indicated by the tighter grouping of the blue line.  During this time period, the lake level was mostly above the target level set by Duke Energy.  This makes sense when you note that 2018 was the 5th wettest year on record and the Jan to Feb of 2019 was the 9th wettest Jan to Feb on record.

You do see a sharp drop in the lake level in October of 2019 which is unusual considering that Lake Norman experienced the 9th wettest Jan to Feb on record.  Personally, I think there were a few events that contributed to this level.  In June, after a tremendous amount of rain in 12 hours, the lake level reached its max level and as a result Duke Energy released a large amount of water from the damn which led to flooding on Mountain Island lake.  Then in September hurricane Dorian ripped through the Bahamas and as it moved up the east coast there was a potential for a large amount of rainfall in our area.  The lake level was dropped in anticipation.  The rain never materialized and then we experienced abnormally dry conditions.

MONTHNORMAL MINIMUM (FT.)NORMAN TARGET (FT.)NORMAL MAXIMUM
January9396100
February9194100
March92.2695.26100
April93.6596.65100
May to October9598100
November93.9897100
December9396100