Lake Water Levels

The surface water level at the Lake of the Ozarks is measured in feet above sea level. Full reservoir is 660 feet above sea level. At full reservoir, the lake is about 110 feet deep in front of the dam. Under that is another 20-30 feet of silt and mud, and under that is bedrock. Here's an unofficial list of record lake level highs and lows since 1932:

Record high lake level was 665.45' in 1943. (5.45' above full reservoir.) [The record high tail water level (Osage River below the dam) was 573'. It occured during the same 1943 flood.]

Record lake level low was 639.95' in 1948. (20.05' below full reservoir.)

Greatest one year fluctuation was 23.13' in 1948.

Average high is 660.52' (0.52' above full reservoir).

Average low is 650.97' (9.03' below full reservoir).

Average yearly fluctuation is 9.55'. (Note: Yearly fluctuations have moderated over the past fifteen years to less than 7 feet per year.)

The photo depicts low water in the summer of 1936, when the lake fell to 640.5' (19.5' below full reservoir). Note the tree line well above the lake level. The rocky shore has been exposed so long that weeds are growing on it. The photo was taken from the south wing wall of the dam. The large dock was built for excursion boats operated by Union Electric. Later it was known as the Loc-Wood dock. Today it is the home of the Tom Sawyer excursion boat.

Special thanks to Robert Dye for supplying much of this information.

© 2002, 2011 by Michael Gillespie. All rights reserved.