Lake McConaughy, Nebraska
A Major Drought Severely Impacts The Reservoir
(update as of November 2004)

Image © K. Dewey, High Plains Regional Climate Center. See links to more photos below.
Kingsley Dam at Lake McConaughy, Nebraska, November 12, 2004.
NOTE:  The reservoir (lake) is full when the water reaches the level of the horizontal boom
which connects the outlet tower on the left and the spillway tower on the right.
The change in color from light to darker tan along the dam also shows the normal height of the water.

also see:  Platte River Drought Update, Nov. 12, 2004

Lake McConaughy Normals, Current Conditions and Projections for Next Year

Maximum Capacity
Current (11-12-04)
Forecast for
Spring 2005
Forecast for end 
of summer 2005**
Volume (storage)
1,900,600 acre-feet
410,000 acre-feet
22.1 miles
11.9 miles*
13.1 miles
4.2 miles
Maximum depth
142 feet
76 feet
87 feet
48 feet
Elevation (ASL)
3,270 feet
3,204 feet
3,215 feet
3,176 feet
Below max elevation
0 feet
66 feet
55 feet
94 feet
Percent full
ASL is "Above Sea Level".  If drained, the lake bed bottom at its deepest location is 3123 feet ASL.

* As measured by the High Plains Regional Climate Center on November 12, 2004.
** As forecast by Central Nebraska Power and Irrigation District News Release November 1, 2004

Links to High Plains Climate Center Information about Lake McConaughy

LINK TO:  Map of Lake McConaughy Showing Normal and Current Size

LINK TO:  Graph Showing Lake McConaughy Levels from 1941 through November 2004

LINK TO:  Graph Showing Lake McConaughy Levels Mid November 2003 - November 2004

LINK TO: Photo Gallery of Lake McConaughy on November 12, 2004.

LINK TO: Photo Gallery of the Lost Town of Lemoyne which reimerged from Lake McConaughy.

Lake McConaughy Quick Facts:
  •  The lake north of Ogallala on the North Platte River is Nebraska 's largest reservoir.
  • It was filled in 1952 after Kingsley Dam's completion in 1941.
  • Lake McConaughy was built for irrigation but it is also popular for recreation.
  • Lake McConaughy is 22.1 miles long at maximum pool and is 142 feet deep at maximum depth when full. 
  • The Outlet Tower height is 185 feet high and the Spillway Tower is 172 feet high.
  • The Spillway Tower has 12 gates which are 16 feet high and 22 feet wide.
  • The Outlet tower is used for normal water release (water enters the tower at the bottom of the reservoir).  Water enters the hydroplant from this tower. 
  • The Spillway Tower is used only in the event of very high water and is a flood control outlet for the reservoir. 
  • Kingsley Dam is 162 feet in height, 28 feet wide at the top and 3.1 miles long.
The information source for these data is the Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District. 

News Stories

Drought is Forcing Farmers to Change Drought Uncovers Memories of Nebraska Village
Drought at Lake Uncovers Memories of Village Drought Uncovers Vestiges of  Nebraska Village
Big Mac water rights leave recreation out Lower Levels Reveal Shoreline Erosion
news release, November 1, 2004 McConaughy Needs Viable Level
water worries, Nebraska's reservoirs Village of the Dammed Resurfaces
Water Supply Outlook is Bad

Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District
Central Nebraska Lake Levels
Lake McConaughy
Lake McConaughy Web Cam
No-till on the Plains
Nebraska Public Power District
National Drought Mitigation Center
Water Resources Data for the Nation

Map Showing Location of Lake McConaughy Relative to Interstate 80 in western Nebraska

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
High Plains Regional Climate Center

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