Friday, June 2, 2017
Ah summer-time. Nothing better than after five years of extreme drought than enjoying the warm temperatures and refreshing coolness of area California rivers. However this year, one might find it to painful to even dip in their toes. The record breaking Sierra snows are melting and creating very chilly fast-moving water for rafters, kayakers, and as well beachgoers.
“It’s freezing,” Renee Perfecto told the Sacramento Bee at the Watt Avenue access area along the American River Parkway, as she watched her three children play in shallow water away from the current. “If you get in knee-deep, the water’s ice cold, but the kids don’t seem to mind.”
Upstream on the South Fork of the American River the fresh runoff is translating into big rapids and excitement and area boaters are reaping the benefits.
“It was awesome, a little cold, it’s fast.”” kayaker Eric Winkler told CBS13-TV.
“People aren’t used to this big water like we’ve had in the past. Five years of a drought really impacts people’s ability to look at a river. They just don’t remember,” That's what Tulare County Sheriff’s Lt. Kevin Kemmerling told the Los Angeles Times about the Kern River, “This year, they think it’s the same river, but it’s five times as big.
California's Kern River had one of its deadliest Memorial Day weekends in 24 years after three people died on the river. Kemmerling said, that search and rescue teams also rescued more than 26 other people from sandbars, trees and other precarious perches in the swiftly moving water over the holiday weekend.
“They get lulled into a false sense of security,” Kemmerling said in the same interview, “What they think is a tranquil river that they’re used to — the currents are running 12 mph. And you can’t swim out of it once you get into it.”
Four people have drowned so far this year in Sacramento waterways according to authorities. The most recent was a 19-year-old man whom drowned after he jumped into the frigid North Fork of the American River and was quickly swept away.
An average of six people drown every summer in Sacramento area waterways, with the accidents concentrated in areas such as Tiscornia Beach at Discovery Park. In 2015, 13 people drowned in the American and Sacramento rivers. Last year, no drownings were reported on them between Memorial and Labor Days. This year bracing for the worst, county and city officials have decided to keep Discovery Park located at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers one of area's popular beaches closed due to dangerous conditions.
“It’s incredibly high,” Jim Remick, a diver instructor for DART (Drowning Accident Rescue Team) told The Sacramento Bee along the American River Parkway, “The water is quite cold and dangerous. It’s an unprecedented thing for the county and city to close the beaches (on Memorial Day weekend), but the way the river is now, (the beaches) may stay closed until the Fourth of July.”
Tiscornia Beach, also remains closed because of winter storm and flooding damage. The park itself opened on a limited basis to allow people to launch boats.