Dry fall, winter could alleviate problems on East Otter Tail County lakes
Yearly precipitation levels indicate flooding on area lakes isn't likely to be as severe this spring.
The formula that produces the prediction dates back to 2010, said Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Hydrologist Julie Aadland.
High precipitation levels fell throughout the east side of the county in 2010, which meant fall was approached with higher-than-normal lake levels.
When spring 2011 rolled around, area lakes were still dealing with 2010 levels. Adding slightly above normal levels of precipitation to the equation pushed area lakes over the edge - literally.
Flooding caused a troublesome situation for many lake home and cabin owners throughout the region. Portions of Devils, Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes experienced severe flooding. In some situations, structures became uninhabitable, forcing lake-goers to turn their summer visits into sandbagging missions.
But something changed in the late summer and early fall of 2011 - water levels began to go down.
"Last summer and fall, levels came down six inches to a foot-and-a-half, so we went into the fall not as high," she said.
A lack of snow this winter also plays a role in the flooding forecast.
"There's very little snow cover - that's the bottom line," said DNR Climatologist Pete Boulay.
A proposal making its way through the Otter Tail County Board seeks approval of a venting system for those living on Little McDonald, Kerbs and Paul lakes. The proposal to enter the Ditch 25 drainage system was made last year, with the hopes of having it passed in time for spring 2012. Considering that didn't happen, lake home owners are, in a sense, getting a break from Mother Nature.
Residents on Devils Lake also petitioned last year to the county board to allow for the creation of a Lake Improvement District. Commissioners did give the go-ahead, which set in motion a vote for the summer of 2013. The LID would allow residents to take action for possible solutions to flooding, such as venting.
While all those living on Devils Lake knew the possibility for man-made relief wouldn't come this summer, they'll at least know nature seems to be on their side, for now.