As rivers rise, so do hazards of swift water

It’s inevitable. At the first hint that the weather might finally stay nice, longing eyes turn toward the water and eager feet sprint at it with an ecstatic “Yayyyy!”

Which is fine. Delightful, even. But the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office and the National Weather Service are warning that higher-than-average temperatures this weekend could mean quickly rising water levels, and are advising those recreating on area rivers, creeks and streams to be especially careful.

With a forecast calling for high temperatures above 80 today, Sunday and Monday — slightly higher than average for this time of year, according to the National Weather Service — that could mean above-freezing temperatures in the high country and a possibility of 24-hour snow melt.

Colorado River levels through Mesa County may be up as much as two feet by mid-week, according to the Mesa County Sheriff’s Office, though critical river levels are not expected due to cooler temperatures predicted for Wednesday. However, it’s possible smaller creeks and streams could reach bankfull, according to the National Weather Service.

The Mesa County Sheriff’s Office is urging extreme caution for those planning to recreate on or around rivers and streams this weekend. Increased runoff means higher flows, so banks can quickly become saturated and unstable and erode or collapse unexpectedly, according to the National Weather Service. Also, extra debris can be expected in rivers and streams.

Those rafting and kayaking should use caution and expect high flows with strong currents and cold temperatures, the National Weather Service reported. Novices are advised to go on the river only with experienced guides.


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