Utahns were out on their motorboats scooting around drought-stricken Lake Powell on Memorial Day when a massive rockfall crashed into the waters, producing a tidal wave for nearby boaters.
Boater Mila Carter captured a video of the dramatic rockslide. She told CNN that she was en route to Antelope Point Marina with her husband when they noticed rocks and sand falling off a cliff near Warm Creek. They stopped to get a better view when suddenly, a huge piece of the cliff plunged into the water.
"We were not expecting anything like that," Carter said.
Memorial a day boaters captured a massive slab of sandstone crashing into Lake Powell yesterday! ????????????
????: Warm Creek Bay
????: Mila Carter pic.twitter.com/hlFzgTmIiG
— Matthew Johnson (@KSL_Matt) May 31, 2022
As the cliff fell into the lake, a tide wave began to form, she said, adding, "I feel like the video didn't capture the wave at the end … it was very impressive."
The rockslide comes as Lake Powell's water level is at a historic low amid an unprecedented megadrought beating down on the westernmost states of the US.
The water level at the second-largest reservoir in the country is so low that the federal government took emergency action to delay water releases earlier this month. The reservoir supplies water and power to millions of people in seven states. It stands at 3,531 feet, its lowest level since the reservoir was filled after the government dammed the Colorado River at Glen Canyon more than a half-century ago.
"Rising water levels can saturate rocks along the shoreline and weaken the cementing agents that bond the rock together, while declining water levels can destabilize the slopes by removing some of the rocks' confining pressure," CNN noted. Some of these cliffs are being dewatered for the first time in decades; it certainly suggests that more of these rockslides can occur.