Stockton Lake, MO — Labor Day weekend is considered by many to be the last big weekend of the summer. To celebrate, some people in the Ozarks plan to spend time out on the lakes.
However, high temperatures and sparse rainfall mean low lake levels.
On Stockton Lake, water levels are 4 feet below what they should normally be, which can create big hazards for boaters.
"There's always the possibility of a tree that's been dislodged or a floating object under the water's surface that you may encounter either at night or during the daylight hours," said Jason Kuessner with the Missouri State Highway Patrol Water Division. "So it's always good to have your life jackets out and accessible."
To those who have spent their lives on the lake, the low levels could be worse.
"I've seen it 10 foot low before," said Jerry McMahon who lives about a mile away from the boat ramp.
In the past 5 years, Stockton Lake was higher than normal, which makes the 4 foot drop seem massive.
"People are looking at it like its going bone dry when that's not the case," explained Kuessner.
Yet some may benefit from a bigger shoreline.
"Low water is a lot better for fishing. It gives them less of a lake to hide in," laughed McMahon.
For the scores of fishermen, anxious for that next big bite, in addition to the holiday traffic, boaters should be mindful of each other.
"There's naturally going to be more boaters out this weekend than weekends in the past. And when you have more boaters out there, there is the chance of boating accidents occurring," said Kuessner.
The water patrol division has some simple tips that can keep you and your family safe. Drive at slower speeds, always have flotation devices ready, and never boat while intoxicated.
Click here for more boating safety tips.
Stockton Lake isn't the only body of water experiencing low water levels. Truman Lake is 2 feet below average, Table Rock Lake is about 1 1/2 feet lower, and Lake of the Ozarks is 1 foot lower than where it should be.