Sunrise light on a grove of tufa towers emerging from the water of Mono Lake with soft green and dusty-red wild grasses in the foreground, Canada geese in the shallow water with reflections of the rocky towers, and desert hills in the distance.

How much is Mono Lake going to rise or fall this year?

It’s that time of year again, when all eyes are on the Sierra snowpack, the level of Mono Lake, and spreadsheets.

How much will Mono Lake rise or fall this year? Photo by Andrew Youssef.

Just imagining this winter’s snowpack flowing down Mono Basin streams this spring brings a gleeful sigh of relief. But … spreadsheets? Yep, because spreadsheets, forecast models, experts, and in-depth Mono Basin hydrologic knowledge, when carefully woven together, are how we figure out the big question for Mono Lake: how much is the lake going to rise or fall this year?

You can see the full March 15, 2019 lake level forecast report here. This early-season forecast shows that the most probable lake level for March 31, 2020 is 6383.6 feet above sea level. The lake is currently at 6381.9, which means that the net lake rise for the upcoming year looks like it will be in the ballpark of a foot and a half. Hooray!

Also, at this time last year we forecast the lake level in April 2019 would be no more than half a foot higher than it is now with the wettest precipitation conditions—and the 2018 runoff year turned out to be pretty wet. Solid work, team. The next report will come out after we’ve had a chance to crunch the numbers, including the official joint lake level reading with DWP on the ever-important first day of the new runoff year, April 1.