By Jeff Wagner

WHITE BEAR LAKE, Minn. (WCCO) – The soggy spring and record snowfall this year have made for a rough start to 2019, but it’s exactly what one popular body of water needed to return to true form.

In 2013, White Bear Lake dropped to its lowest level on record of 918.84 feet. As of Monday, it’s at 925.07 according to the Minnesota DNR. That marks the lake’s highest level since 2003.

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“Houses weren’t selling. They put huge extensions on their docks out, they couldn’t get the boats out,” said Andrew Frederick, who lives in Mahtomedi and frequents the lake.

He was out on a rental boat Monday enjoying a view years in the making.

“It’s exciting, it’s vibrant, everyone’s happy to see the lake up,” he said.

For the first time in nearly 16 years, the water level is high enough that there’s an overflow. Water near White Bear Lake County Park was flowing west toward a culvert, creating a pool of water deep enough that carp were swimming in it.

“In over six years, White Bear Lake has gone up about 6 feet and in those six years we’ve had a surplus of about 24 inches of additional rainfall above normal,” state climatologist Pete Boulay said.

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While we’ve experienced wet and dry spells over the years, Boulay said the area hasn’t had a drought since 2012, the year before the lake hit its record low.

“We just have seen the trends of precipitation going up. Not only that, the trends of 1-inch rainfalls have gone up in the Twin Cities over time, too,” he said.

Outside of rainfall, evaporation and groundwater also factored into lake levels rising, Boulay added.

Frederick rented his boat at Your Boat Club, a rental company that started at White Bear Lake in 2011. Manager Jake Mikulich Ellis said they love when the water levels are high but did their best to weather the lake’s lean years.

“We were able to persevere, but I know some (rental companies) were struggling,” he said. “It feels like a lot of those are bouncing back in the community.”

Outside of the boost in business, the higher water levels create a scene that’s simply more marketable to customers.

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“The more we can get it up, the better and the members love that as well. Just to see fish swimming around and just the clear water, they really appreciate the water being up,” he said.

Jeff Wagner