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How do droughts affect lake levels in Oklahoma?

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Oklahoma lake levels generally fall well beyond their maximum capacity point during times of drought. During the drought that occured in the first half of 2015, certain lakes in Oklahoma dropped below 50 percent capacity and had up to 11 feet of depth exposed. Certain cities in Oklahoma, such as Lawton, Atlus and Duncan, enact water rationing measures during these times of extreme drought when key water reservoir locations evaporate, leaving water supply levels low.

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Low lake water levels during periods of drought in Oklahoma can result in water supply levels reaching dangerous levels. Lake Hefner, located near Oklahoma City, recorded water levels of 11 feet below full capacity in April 2015, despite a short period of rain. During this time period, residents in the city were encouraged and warned to conserve water during the drought.

In May 2015, Oklahoma recorded the wettest month in its history with the state receiving 14.4 inches of rain on average. A significant number of Oklahoma lakes' water levels exceeded their normal pool elevation during this time period. Several lakes in the state were still below capacity, with both Foss Lake and Canton Lake recording water capacity levels of 60 and 30 percent, respectively.

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