The 2022 Mono Lake level forecast

Each spring the Mono Lake Committee’s team of modelers and Mono Basin hydrology experts uses the lake level on April 1 together with the Mono Basin snowpack numbers and similar-year and other relevant hydrological statistical data to produce the Mono Lake Committee lake level forecast for the runoff year ahead. You can download the full April 1, 2022 Mono Lake level forecast here.

It is the third year of California’s ongoing drought. At Mono Lake the past runoff year was classified as “Dry” and due to very dry weather conditions throughout most of the year, Mono Lake fell 1.4 feet to 6379.9 feet above sea level by April 1, 2022.

April 1 is the start of the 2022–2023 runoff year; DWP’s preliminary runoff classification is for a “Dry” year type. The graph below shows the range of likely Mono Lake elevations for April 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023. The range of projections is produced by the Mono Lake Committee’s modeling of hydrologic sequences using some of the driest years in the historical record.

This forecast shows that the most probable lake level, with 1990 climate, for March 31, 2023, is 6378.7 feet above sea level.

Reference lake levels

  • State Water Board mandated lake level to protect Mono Lake: 6392 feet above sea level.
  • Lake level rise from April 1, 2022 needed to achieve the mandated level: 12.1 feet.
  • 6380’ triggers reduction in DWP’s surface water exports from 16,000 to 4,500 acre-feet this year—a limitation designed to slow further decline of the lake level.

Top photo by Elin Ljung.