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)
This NASA image shows Lake Mead water levels on June 16, 2013.
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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