Posted by Kerry Grissett on February 09, 2004 at 18:41:46:
In Reply to: lake levels posted by baddog on February 09, 2004 at 11:39:12:
It took me a while to understand why the readings at the dams don't always seem right, but they are. The problem is that the river does not stay "flat" and maintain the same elevation from the upper to the lower end. This is especially true when high volumes of water are flowing through the dams and coming into the river from various creeks and streams.
It depends on a few things as to how high a particular area will rise in comparison to the measurement at the dam. Take the Whitesburg area of the river at Huntsville. It rose about 12 feet from the level before the rains started while at the same time the river at Decatur only came up about 5 feet. The reason is the narrowing of the river from the Whitesburg area up to the dam at Guntersville. All those flood gates open at the dam are releasing a massive amount of water which is essentially bottlenecked until the river widens down stream.
This can also be observed in Florence at McFarland park. That areas floods terribly, but if you were to drive all the way to the Pickwick dam, the flooding would not be nearly as severe.
Flint West Flint creeks have flooded well out of their banks during/after heavy rains even though Wheeler lake didn't rise anywhere near flood stage and has actually stayed at relatively normal levels in the past. I lived basically on West Flint creek several years ago and witnessed this more than one time.
I don't know the technical terms to explain the phenomenon, but the readings at the TVA Lake information page are correct even if the predictions frequently are not.
I listed this link in another reply, but I will list it again. The USGS maintains and operated several water monitoring stations of which several of them are real-time and monitor water levels, etc. Unfortunately, there aren't many (one I am sure of at McVille) on Guntersville, but there are many from Wheeler and down stream.
There is a way to manipulate this page to show the links in text format grouped by river basin, but I didn't have a link saved for it, so you will have to play with the page to see the entire listing that way. Also, at least the Decatur monitoring station is not always up-to-date and may be several days behind. The Whitesburg station is usually up-to-date.
Hope this helps, but I am sure someone else could have explained it better and probably with much fewer words! (grin)
Good luck and good fishin'
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