Kentucky Lake, Barkley Lake Water Levels Rising To Control Ohio River Flooding

Feb 27, 2019

Barkley Dam.

Tennessee Valley Authority and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers officials are asking people to be mindful of higher water levels in Kentucky Lake and Barkley Lake through this weekend. The lakes’ two dams since Monday have cut back water flows to help control flooding along the Ohio River.

TVA River Forecast Center Manager James Everett said water levels at the two lakes are already ten feet above normal. According to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers Lake Barkley Facebook page, waters in Barkley Lake are expected to crest at 366 feet on Saturday. That’s around where water levels would be during the summer.

Everett said by holding water back in the two lakes, severe flooding at places along the Ohio River like Cairo, Illinois, and Paducah won’t get worse. Everett said boats on the two lakes should be mindful of debris and flooding from rising water levels.

That may induce some reservoir-type flooding of docks, marinas, campgrounds and private property,” Everett said. “Maybe even some low-lying access roads and things of that nature.”

The U.S. Forest Service has closed some trails and campgrounds at Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area because of the rising water levels.

The National Weather Forecast predicts the Ohio River at Cairo will crest at 56.5 feet Friday afternoon. That would be the third-highest river level at Cairo in recorded history.

USACE Lake Barkley Resource Manager Kayl Kite said this has been the wettest February on record for the Nashville area, and the months ahead are expected to be just as rainy.

“March and April -- that’s typically the wet season, spring rains, so we’re trying to get a lot of water out, so we can be prepared for future heavy rain events,” Kite said.

Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin declared a state of emergency on Monday because of statewide flooding. Bevin also visited Livingston County along the Ohio River on Wednesday to view sandbagging efforts.