A 4.8 magnitude earthquake (originally reported 5.4) shook Las Vegas and surrounding areas Friday morning causing roads and bridges to be closed. The quake went little-reported outside of local news (since there was at first glance minimum damage caused) but, since the quake's occurrence, something considerably more worrisome has occurred.
In the 36 hours since the quake's occurrence, water levels at Lake Mead have plunged precipitously. While we know correlation is not causation, the 'coincidence' of an extreme loss in water levels occurring in the aftermath of one of the largest quakes in recent Vegas history does raise a suspicious eyebrow - especially when there has been no official word on the precipitous decline.
A 4.8 magnitude earthquake shook Las Vegas and surrounding areas Friday morning, forcing loose a rubber casing on a bridge and leading state officials to close Spaghetti Bowl interchanges for several hours.
After the Nevada Department of Transportation inspected bridges for possible structural damage, they deemed the roads safe for travel and reopened them just before 5 p.m. Traffic had backed up for miles during the closures, which came at the start of the Memorial Day weekend.
The quake, which hit at 11:47 a.m., was centered about 23 miles south-southwest of Caliente, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The magnitude was originally reported as 5.4, but the official number was lowered twice Friday.
The ramp from southbound U.S. Highway 95 to southbound Interstate 15 was closed about 12:20 p.m. Friday, officials said.
“The joint damage was pre-existing. The tremblor simply dislodged the protective rubber encasing the bridge seam making it look much worse than it was in reality” and prompting an immediate shutdown of the ramps, NDOT engineer Mary Martini said in a news release about 3:45 p.m.
Since then, official water level data shows an incredible 8 foot plunge in water levels since the earthquake.
considering the (average drop in the last 10 years is 1 inch, this is a troubling outlier.
There is , of course, a possibility that the drop is the result of broken sensors and we will be following up during the week to see if levels normalize.
If the water level drops below 1,075 feet elevation by January 1, 2016, it will trigger a federal water emergency. And water rationing.
Las Vegas Review Journal reported that forecasters expect the level to drop to 1073 feet by June, before Lake Powell would begin to release more water. Assuming “average or better snow accumulations in the mountains that feed the Colorado River – something that’s happened only three times in the past 15 years,” the water level on January 1 is expected to be barely above the federal shortage level.
Even with these somewhat rosy assumptions of “average or better than average snow accumulations,” the water level would begin set new lows next April. But if the next winter is anything like the last few, all bets are off.
If the level drops below 1050 feet, one of the two intake pipes for the Las Vegas Valley, which gets 90% of its water that way, will run dry.
As Roman Catholic Imperialist notes, this is quite unprecedented... For a sense of just how bad things are gettiing, the following images will help...
Update: moments ago the Lake Mead National Recreation Area officially denied that the online reading was accurate blaming the water level collapse on inaccurate water levels as of this morning.
Lake Mead's elevation has NOT dropped to 1,068 feet. Some inaccurate data was posted online. We are at 1,077 feet. http://t.co/a0YUo9iD0P— Lake Mead (@LakeMeadNRA) May 24, 2015
Dare we say it: double seasonally-adjusted water levels?