Videos depicting waterfalls supplementing the diminished levels of Lake Powell have been widely shared across social media platforms. Certain users are suggesting a connection between the rainfall from Tropical Storm Hilary and the reservoir’s improved conditions.
Tropical Storm Hilary initially formed last Wednesday and quickly intensified into a hurricane by Thursday morning. By early Friday morning, it had escalated to a Category 4 hurricane, boasting sustained wind speeds of 140 miles per hour. However, its strength subsided prior to making landfall in Baja California over the weekend, where it had weakened to a Category 1 hurricane.
As the storm moved further inland, it weakened to a tropical storm. Meteorologists had previously cautioned that the storm’s heavy rainfall could pose life-threatening risks, particularly in arid California regions like Palm Springs and Death Valley National Park. Indeed, the deluge led to flooding in desert areas, including Death Valley. The rainfall also contributed to a minor increase of .16 inches in water levels at Lake Mead since the storm’s arrival. Worth noting is that Lake Mead was within a flash flood risk zone, according to a map from the National Hurricane Center (NHC).
The rise in water levels at Lake Mead is certainly a positive development, given the prolonged drought that has plagued the region, resulting in critically low water levels. A similar concern exists for Lake Powell. However, attributing the recent surge in Lake Powell’s water levels to Tropical Storm Hilary’s rains is not accurate.