Lake Mead hits new low as drought ravages the western US

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Lake Mead hits new low as drought ravages the western US
Lake Mead water levels have dropped to an all-time low as the drought wears on. (Climate.gov)
Rings on Hoover Dam show just how devastating the drought has been to the man-made reservoir. (Climate.gov)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 26: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 26, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, AZ - JULY 30: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam on July 30, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, AZ - JULY 17: (Bottom) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam are shown on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A pair of rest rooms on pontoon floats rest on dirt in Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 29: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind boats in dry dock near the Lake Mead Marina July 29, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead in the distance behind boats in dry dock near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: A pair of rest rooms on pontoon floats rest on dirt in Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
This NASA image shows Lake Mead water levels on July 21, 2014.
LAKE MEAD NRA, AZ - JULY 30: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam on July 30, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, AZ - JULY 17: (Bottom) The Arizona Intake Towers (L) and Nevada Intake Towers on the upstream side of the Hoover Dam are shown on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 26: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 26, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A pair of rest rooms on pontoon floats rest on dirt in Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, AZ - JULY 30: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) The Arizona Intake Towers at the Hoover Dam July 30, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, AZ - JULY 17: (Bottom) The Arizona Intake Towers at the Hoover Dam are shown on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Arizona. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 26: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Boats are moored at the Lake Mead Marina July 26, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 29: In this before-and-after composite image, (Top) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind boats in dry dock near the Lake Mead Marina July 29, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Bottom) A view of Lake Mead in the distance behind boats in dry dock near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this composite image, (Left) Lake Mead Marina is seen behind dry cracked earth in an area that was once filled with water from Lake In this before-and-after Mead July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Right) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind dry cracked earth in an area that used to be underwater near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAKE MEAD NRA, NV - JULY 25: In this composite image, (Left) Lake Mead Marina is seen behind dry cracked earth in an area that was once filled with water from Lake In this before-and-after Mead July 25, 2007 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: (Right) Lake Mead is seen in the distance behind dry cracked earth in an area that used to be underwater near where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
In this May 27, 2011 photo, Jeffery Serrano, of Henderson, Nev., second from left, helps his kids fish at twilight at the edge of Kingman Wash, at Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona. Lake Mead's water level is expected to rise back from last year's record lows when record snowpack in the mountains begins to melt. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Brenda Streit of Las Vegas, sits under the shade of an umbrella while blowing up an inflatable raft along Boulder Beach at Lake Mead, Saturday, June 29, 2013 near Boulder City, Nev. Saturday's daytime high was expected to reach 117 degrees in Las Vegas, which is the city's all-time high. It was 108 at noon Saturday in Sin City. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
This NASA image shows Lake Mead water levels on June 16, 2013.
FILE - The high water mark for Lake Mead is seen on Hoover Dam and its spillway near Boulder City, Nev., in this April 16, 2013 file photo. After back-to-back driest years in a century on the Colorado River, federal water managers are announcing a historic step to slow the flow of water from a massive reservoir upstream of the Grand Canyon to the huge Lake Mead reservoir behind Hoover Dam near Las Vegas. The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation announced Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, that the move to keep more water in Lake Powell will lower the water level of Lake Mead by about 20 feet in 2014. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson, File)
The Bellagio fountain sprays in sync with music during one of its afternoon shows, Tuesday, March 20, 2012, in Las Vegas. The Southern Nevada Water Authority won approval Thursday from Nevada's state engineer to pump up to 84,000 acre-feet of water from rural areas along the Nevada-Utah line to quench the thirst of the Las Vegas Valley. The water would provide a backup to drought-stricken Lake Mead. That's where Las Vegas currently gets almost all its drinking water. (AP Photo/Julie Jacobson)
Lake Mead and the surrounding area as captured by NASA on June 16, 2013.
LAKE MEAD, NRA, NV - JULY 17: High winds blow dirt into the air near visitors at Boulder Harbor where the Lake Mead Marina was once located on July 17, 2014 in the Lake Mead National Recreation Area, Nevada. In 2008, the marina was moved due to low water levels. Last week, North America's largest man-made reservoir dropped below 1,082 feet above sea level, the lowest it's been since the Hoover Dam was built in the 1930s. A 14-year drought in the Southwestern United States and a dwindling supply of water from the Colorado River, in part due to cuts in the reservoir's annual allocation of water from Lake Powell, has left a white 'bathtub ring' of mineral deposits left by higher water levels on the rocks around the lake as high as 130 feet. The National Park Service has been forced to close or extend boat launch ramps, and move entire marinas to try to keep up with the receding water levels. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
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By RYAN GORMAN

Nevada's Lake Mead reservoir has been virtually drained as the drought ravaging the western U.S. has caused water levels to drop to historic lows.

Staggering new photos show how the manmade body of water outside Las Vegas is now 147.23 feet below capacity and 133.99 feet below its last peak in 1998, federal officials said.

A stark visual reminder of just how dry Lake Mead is becoming can be seen in the form of a white ring around the rocks along the reservoir's coastline.

The solid line where the light-colored rock meets the darker rocks shows where water levels have historically sat, according to the government.

The section of the cliffs closer to the water is grey because of minerals deposited on its surface while it was covered with the life-giving liquid.

Similar reminders can be seen on pictures of the Hoover Dam.

Water levels are dropping because western winters are less snowy than in the past. Melted snow accounts for 96 percent of the lake's water sources.

Runoff was 96 percent of normal in 2014, but only 47 percent in 2013 and 45 percent in 2012, officials said.

Fears are growing that the lake's elevation might drop below 1,000 feet for the first time in its history.

Authorities believe it will drop to only 1,080 feet by November. A dry winter could lead to further catastrophic drop next summer.

Lake Mead's all-time high elevation, reached in 1998, was 1,215.76 feet.

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