Do you remember what you were doing a year ago? It might ring a bell if you were told that June 30, 2014, was the day the level of Prior Lake finally peaked at an elevation of 906.17 feet after 13 inches of rain fell during the month of June. Many of you probably now remember and would reluctantly answer, “sandbagging,” with a look of exhaustion on your face. Or maybe you remember continually opening up the PLSLWD webpage and clicking on the Prior Lake or Spring Lake lake level graph wondering if today was the day the lake would finally stop rising. Perhaps you were checking the Facebook Flood page looking for volunteers to help watch your pumps. Today, sandbagging is likely far from your mind and you probably haven’t been paying as much attention to our website as you are planning your 4th of July holiday.
Prior Lake is nearly 4.5 feet lower today and only 5 inches of rain fell on the soil this June, which is still half an inch over the NOAA monthly average (see figures 1 through 4). Though we may still be dealing with some of the aftermath, life for the most part, has returned to normal. What a nice word… normal.
However, there were some silver linings to this disaster. Friendships were made, neighbors finally met, and an incredible sense of community reigned as complete strangers volunteered their time and muscles, day and night, to sandbag homes and watch pumps for people they did not know.
Good or bad, we are glad it is over. June 2014 holds the highest lake level record for Prior Lake in the last hundred years. Spring Lake and most other area lakes experienced record levels as well. In 1915, Prior Lake reached 907.0 feet. However, the highest recorded lake level was just 8 years prior to that in 1907 at 907.6 feet. Since that time, we have seen large fluctuations in lake levels (see Figure 5). The 2014 Flood may be just another hump in the elevation graph of Prior Lake to some, but to those that lived it, that hump will be filled with many memories. If you have any pictures you would like to share from the flood (especially “That was then, this is now”), please post them on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/PLSLWD).
Here’s to a Happy 4th of July and to enjoying those festive activities that you may have missed last year!
Figure 1: Prior Lake levels in June 2014
Figure 2: Prior Lake levels in June 2015
Figure 3: June 2014 Prior Lake Staff Gauge
Figure 4: June 2015 Prior Lake Staff Gauge
Figure 5: Maximum recorded annual lake levels on Prior Lake from 1906-2014