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Frequently Asked Questions About Lake Levels

What are normal water temperatures for Kentucky Lake?

See this chart for seasonal water temperatures.

What are the normal water levels for Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley?

During the winter months, the normal winter pool level is 354'. During the summer, the normal summer pool level is 359'. TVA usually begins to drop the levels after the Fourth of July slowly to winter pool levels by December 1. Then on April 1, TVA begins to raise the lakes to their normal summer pool levels by May 1. The rise is usually pretty quick. Sometimes in the spring, the lakes will experience higher-than-normal water levels due to flooding either on the lakes or on the rivers below the dams.

What is the record high water mark for Kentucky Lake or Lake Barkley?

Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley reached 372.5' on May 4, 2011.

What about the record lows for Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley?

The lowest level Kentucky Lake has dropped to since the gates shut in 1944 is 348.02', which occurred on March 11, 1961. For Lake Barkley, the low-water mark was 352.3' set on April 19, 1982.

How much water can run through Kentucky Dam and Barkley Dam?

We're not sure how much water can be sent through the dams, but the record for Kentucky Dam is 446,000 cubic feet of water every second. That happened in 1944. For Barkley Dam, the record amount is 303,000 cubic feet per second, which happened on May 4, 2011 during the high lake levels. There's 7.48 gallons for each cubit foot, so Kentucky Dam spilled over 3.3 million gallons each second - that's over 288 billion gallons each day - during it's record in 1944.

How clear is Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley?

You'll see "stained" or "normal" or "muddy" in our reporting. Generally Kentucky Lake has visibility from three to four feet under normal conditions. Barkley is always stained, meaning there's always a brownish or greenish tint to it. During flooding situations, the lakes, especially Barkley, can be muddy with zero visibility.

Is the lake over 350 feet deep?

No, the numbers you see mean "feet above sea level" which is the surface elevation of the lake. The deepest part of Kentucky Lake is generally about 70 feet or so. There are some exceptions, such as the "Rock Quarry", which is reportedly over 100 feet deep. Lake Barkley is significantly shallower.