Lake Sakakawea was officially declared frozen over at 6:40 a.m. Wednesday. The observation was made by plant mechanics at the Garrison Dam Power Plant. The date falls well within the range of normal freeze dates that have been documented since 1961.
It was earlier this year that Sakakawea recorded its latest freeze date on record 10:10 a.m. Jan. 18, 2012. The previous record for latest recorded freeze was Jan. 16, 1999.
While Lake Sakakawea has been officially declared frozen, it does not mean it will remain that way. It is common for high winds, warm temperatures or a combination of both to create sections of open water anywhere on the reservoir. In past years many areas have alternated between frozen and open throughout the winter.
The elevation of Lake Sakakawea was 1829.7 feet Wednesday, the same level projected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the reservoir's Dec. 31 elevation. Releases through the hydroelectric turbines at Garrison Dam were scheduled to average 18,500 cubic feet per second in December. It is anticipated that January releases will average 22,500 cfs and that the reservoir will fall to 1,828.5 feet by Jan. 31.