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Lake Norman water levels are high again! Updated Jan. 5th 2018

lake norman water levels when high

Duke Energy just released the warning below with an update and caution due to yet another storm that arrived today. Due to our unusually high amounts of rain and snow, our Lake Norman water levels have been unusually high this past month.  100′ is full pond so at 98.6 we have some wiggle room but based upon the Duke Energy warning below, we can expect increasing lake water levels for the next few days at least. To get an idea of what it looks like when Lake Norman is a “full pond”  I took this photo a few years ago when it was at full pond and as  you can see even the dock is slightly under water!

Here is the official update from Duke Energy from today, January 5th.

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

Caution: Lake Norman Water Levels Unusually Low Due to Drought

Lake Norman water levels September 2015


Our recent moderate drought has hit Lake Norman particularly hard.  Today, according to Duke Energy’s daily lake level chartour lake is at 94.3 almost 4 feet below the target of 98.  If you look at the chart you will notice that Duke Energy has lowered Lake Norman’s level well below the other 16 lakes of the Catawba, Keowee-Toxaway & Broad River.  My guess is this may be in part because we have our dam so they are better able to control our levels and are allowing other lakes to retain more water in case the drought doesn’t end soon.

The wonderful photo above was shared by one of my new favorite Lake Norman blogs:  in which readers are treated to fun and stunning photos of and articles about her dogs, food/recipes, home decor & decorating ideas, and life in Lake Norman. Continue reading

Just the facts about Lake Norman, lake norman real estate

Why are Lake Norman’s water levels so low in February?

Lake Norman waterfront shoreline in  February

Isn’t it reassuring to know that Duke Energy, who controls Lake Norman’s water levels, has a well designed plan which is monitored daily?  I took this photo today while showing waterfront properties because you can clearly see the different colors of the shoreline riprap which mark the high, medium and lowest lake levels.  The orangish layer closest to the water is under water most of the year. Looking at this, newcomers might think that the lake is abnormally low right now which is true.  However, if all goes as planned February should have the lowest water levels of the year according to Duke Energy.  In fact, today, at 95.7, we are actually a foot above our “target” of 94.5.  The winter draw down of water levels helps us prepare for the spring runoff from the melting snow in the mountains. Continue reading

Just the facts about Lake Norman

Lake Norman’s Water Levels are Back Up!


**For an update on Lake Norman’s drought 2015 go to: Caution: Lake Norman Water Levels Unusually Low Due to Drought


If you live on Lake Norman I don’t have to tell you that our lake levels have been uncharacteristically low since late summer; dropping down to 95.0′ on September 17th which is a full 3 feet lower than our  summer “target” levels of 98 feet.  And, you most probably have also noticed a sudden increase starting on November 16th bringing us up to our current level of 98.7 feet! 

I must admit I am baffled as to why Duke Energy, who manages our Lake Norman water levels, decided to drop them fairly suddenly during a time when our “target” levels were 98 feet and we were not in a drought.  One guess is that they were worried about the potential for Hurricane Irene’s high rain levels.  If any of you all know more, please leave a comment!

For those of you who are new to Lake Norman, the very best resource regarding Lake Norman water levels bar none is Duke Energy’s Check Lake Norman Water Levels website  which Duke Energy updates daily.  On this site you can get the actual lake levels of all 11 lakes that are part of the Catawba River System as well as the “target”” Lake Norman water level for that day, the minimum , maximum, range and any lake message updates.  They also provide a schedule of flow releases and other related data.

Lake Norman is a result of the damming of the Catawba River back in 1963 when the Cowans Ford Dam was completed.  It is part of Duke Energy’s power resources and provides electricity to the Piedmont Carolinas by using the McGuire Nuclear Station and the Cowans Ford Hydroelectric Station at the south end of the lake and the Marshall Steam Plant on the west side at Highway 150.  The water levels are controlled by Duke Energy and normally vary less than 5 feet.

The maximum level is called “full pond” which is 760 feet above sea level. Duke Energy considers full pond to be the “the point at which the water begins to spill over the flood gate spillway.” You will sometimes hear waterfront homeowners refer to the “760 line”.

On the Lake Norman Water Level charts, full pond is considered 100.0 feet.  Duke Energy purposely lowers water levels seasonally to anticipate rain or melting of the winter snows that feed the entire Catawba River system.

If you want to see today’s 13-Month Lake Level History chart for Lake Norman  on Duke Energy’s website you can see the daily water levels for the past year.

All I know is the lake looks awesome!

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Just the facts about Lake Norman

How have recent storms impacted Lake Noman’s water levels?

Lake Norman waterfront home in the snow

 If you live in a waterfront home, you will have noticed that our Lake Norman water levels have been fluctuating quite a bit more than usual this past month!  On January 26th the water levels peaked at 99.2 which is as close to “full pond” as I have seen over the past 5 years.  Today, February 1, the levels are back down to 97.1 which is about normal for our summer months.  However, the “target” level that Duke Energy has established for Lake Norman for today is only 94.0.  See: Duke Energy Website.  (I took this photo yesterday and as you can see our water levels look beautiful.)

The good news is that Duke Energy has the capability of adjusting our water levels along with all 12 lakes that are part of the Catawba River power system.  They purposely lower Lake Norman’s water levels seasonally to allow for the kinds of storms we have had recently.  It is very rare for our levels to exceed 100 or “full pond” so most waterfront homes will notice fluctuations but don’t have to worry about flooding.  This past week Duke Energy brought our water levels back down two feet and never allowed them to reach 100.

However, if your property is in a flood-prone area, whether on Lake Norman or anywhere around Lake Norman, then you should monitor Duke Energy’s website for updates like this one for today:

Last Update: 2/1/2010 9:19:06 AM
Over the next week to fourteen days, multiple winter weather and/or rain events are forecast for areas throughout the Catawba-Wateree River Basin. As a result, we expect lake levels to remain high, with a high probability for flooding to occur in low-lying and flood-prone areas. As always, we encourage those living along lakes, streams and other low-lying and flood-prone areas to pay special attention to changing weather conditions and take any necessary precautions. We will provide additional updates if conditions change.

Important note to Lake Norman area home buyers:    Be sure to find out if your potential home is in a flood zone.  You will receive “State of North Carolina Residential Property Disclosure Statement” . # 20 on this disclosure asks the seller if they know if the property has experienced a “Flood Hazard or that the property is in a FEDERALLY-DESIGNATED FLOOD PLAIN”.

The bottom line for most of us is that when we do have abundant rains, the lake is more beautiful than ever!


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