Lowest Lake Norman Levels

If you are thinking about buying a Lake Norman waterfront or listing a Lake Norman waterfront home, you may be wondering, ‘how low does the lake level get?’

You would think this would be easy information to find.  You can easily access the 13 month history on Duke Energy’s website but it does not provide data beyond that.   After googling and searching through old news articles without a definitive answer, I reached out to Duke Energy’s Hydro Operations to get the answers.

So what is the lowest lake level on record for Lake Norman?  Drum roll please…….

Drum Roll Please....

The lowest level on record for Lake Norman was 93.1 ft. in 2007. 

I want to point out that the lake level is based on a reading of a 100 ft at full pond which corresponds to the 760 typographical line.   Think of it this way, at 93.1 ft the lake was 6.9 feet lower then when it is full.   We created a video that further explains the Lake Norman lake level and the 760 line.

The chart below displays the lake levels from January 2008 to October 2019.  The blue lines are the actual levels and the red lines are the target levels.  Notice that it only dipped below 95’ in 2 of the last 12 years.  The lowest reading for those 2 years, October 2014 and January 2016, were during the second driest period on record when they bottomed out below 94’.  It’s important to note that lowest reading for each year are typically during the winter months when the target levels set by Duke Energy are lower. 

Lake Norman Lake Level History

Lake Norman Water Level History

For many, what’s most important is the lake levels during the recreational months.  From mid-March to October the target lake levels are from 96 ft to 98 ft.  I’ve added another chart below that marks the lake level during July. See the green lines.  Notice that in the last 12 summers the lake level has only gone below 98 ft during July during on year.  That year was 2014 during the dry period noted above.

I also found it interesting that the variation in the lake levels was a lot less over the last three years indicated by the tighter grouping of the blue line.  During this time period, the lake level was mostly above the target level set by Duke Energy.  This makes sense when you note that 2018 was the 5th wettest year on record and the Jan to Feb of 2019 was the 9th wettest Jan to Feb on record.

Lake Norman Lake Level During Summer Months

You do see a sharp drop in the lake level in October of 2019 which is unusual considering that Lake Norman experienced the 9th wettest Jan to Feb on record.  Personally, I think there were a few events that contributed to this level.  In June, after a tremendous amount of rain in 12 hours, the lake level reached its max level and as a result Duke Energy released a large amount of water from the damn which led to flooding on Mountain Island lake.  Then in September hurricane Dorian ripped through the Bahamas and as it moved up the east coast there was a potential for a large amount of rainfall in our area.  The lake level was dropped in anticipation.  The rain never materialized and then we experienced abnormally dry conditions.

You may also be interested in another related article, ‘What is Considered Deep Water on Lake Norman’.

Month Normal Minimum (ft.) Norman Target (ft.) Normal Maximum
January
93
96
100
February
91
94
100
March
92.26
95.26
100
April
93.65
96.65
100
May to October
95
98
100
November
93.98
97
100
December
93
96
100

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