Weather headlines the year


Warm spring followed by hot, dry summer and fall leave Clear Lakers wondering how low the lake will go


The weather is something you usually talk about when there’s nothing to talk about.  But in 2012, the weather was all the talk.  From an unusually mild winter to a hot and dry summer and fall which had the lake level dropping lower each week, the weather was far and away the top story as we look back on 2012.


And while they might have been overshadowed by talk of the drought, there were also many other 

stories worthy of consideration in our top 10 stories of 2012 list.  In a busy year which saw the community-- and the nation-- honor a Clear Lake historical site, there was also instances of old buildings giving way to new purpose and development.  

As we begin 2013, we take a look back at the stories which made the greatest news splash in 2012.


#1 The Drought

Our year started with a January to remember.  On Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 an 82-year-old record high temperature was shattered and Tuesday, Jan. 10 another record high fell.  According to the National Weather Service, temperatures on both days topped 50, with the Jan. 5 high of  57 degrees beating the record of 47 degrees set on Jan. 5, 1930.  

With the late onset of winter weather, officials with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources announced in late January they would not be operating the aeration system for the remainder of the winter on Clear Lake.  The aerators are designed to reduce the probability of winter fish kill, however oxygen readings taken indicated adequate levels.

The ice was officially declared “out” on Clear Lake Friday, March 16.  The first lake level of the year showed the lake level at -9.72 inches below the weir.  When “ice-in” was called on Dec. 7, 2011 the lake level was -13.32 inches below the weir.

By June, farmers weren’t the only ones hoping for rain. Boaters were feeling the effects of the dropping level of the lake, according to boat dealers and conservationists.  Iowa Department of Natural Resources Conservation Officer Ben Bergman reported he was seeing some boat owners pulling their boats and hoists from the water because they couldn’t get the hoist low enough to accommodate their boat.  The DNR also began marking reefs and rocky areas where boats could encounter rocks.  In late May the DNR issued an alert to boaters launching from the Ventura Access and McIntosh Woods boat ramps, advising them to only back their trailer down as far as necessary to prevent their trailer from slipping off the end of the concrete ramp.  Scour holes developed at the end of the ramps from boats powering on to trailers. 

Although the lake was low throughout the summer, it was still nearly 34-inches away from its all-time low level.  That record was set in 1989 when the lake was measured at 46.20 inches below the weir.  At that time, the DNR revised its rule concerning the limit on the length of docks.  Prior to that date the length of a dock began to be measured at the high water mark.  That rule was changed to start the measurement at the water’s edge.  The maximum length for a dock is 300-feet.

It wasn’t so much the drought, but rather extreme heat which affected the Fourth of July celebration.   Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce officials were pleased with how the activities went, considering the heat and mid-week timing of the holiday.  Evans United Shows owner Tom Evans said the heat prevented the carnival from a record-setting year, but the event was still a success.

The 17th Annual Clear Lake Antique and Wooden Boat Rendezvous scheduled for mid-July at the Sea Wall was cancelled due to the low water level, which on July 17 was 16.56 inches below the weir. By Tuesday, Sept. 25, the level had fallen to 28.08 inches below the weir and by October, as the number moved into the 30s, it became apparent that the aerators which keep portions of Clear Lake from freezing must be kept on to reduce the possibility of a winter fish kill.

Clear Lake officially froze Dec. 11, 2012. The level at that time was -31.44 inches below the weir.


#2 Surf chosen for historic registry

The Surf Ballroom & Museum has announced in February that the historic venue had been listed in the National Register of Historic Places. The National Register is administered by the National Park Service, and is the Country’s official list of United States historic sites considered “worthy of preservation.” A property’s addition to the Register honors it by recognizing their importance to the community, state, or the nation.  Specifically cited in the application was the Surf’s association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history, as well as its association with the lives of a person or persons significant in our past.  These are both criteria needed to be considered significant at the local and national levels. 

“Buddy Holly’s legacy has become intimately connected to the Surf Ballroom as his final performance venue,” stated Alexa McDowell of AKAY Consulting.  McDowell represented the Surf during the nomination process and was responsible for the research and submission of their case to the National Register.

The Surf Ballroom was also eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places because of significance in its association with the history of - Read More Via e-Edition

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