Harry Potter Lake

Chris Arp photo 

Harry Potter Lake, at the top of this photo, as it looked four years ago, perched 10 feet above and 30 feet away from the creek that in 2022 received most of its water. 

“Lakes seem, on the scale of years or of human life spans, permanent features of landscapes, but they are geologically transitory, usually born of catastrophes, to mature and die quietly.” — George Evelyn Hutchinson, “A Treatise on Limnology,” 1957.

Harry Potter Lake did not die quietly. Water in the basin on Alaska’s North Slope cut through a 30-foot strip of tundra in early July 2022. The lake then roared into a creek. The creek swelled like a python for a day, robbing Harry Potter Lake of the majority of its water.

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