After a long winter which brought one of the largest snowpacks on record, rising temperatures are delivering historic volumes of snowmelt to California’s rivers. The sun is finally out, but that doesn’t mean it is time to hit the river.
Unlike dry winters of the past, which resulted in short ski seasons and early dips in the South Yuba River, agencies are sounding the alarm and urging the public to exercise extreme caution. The calm river flows many people are used to seeing at the South Yuba in August and September are on average less than 50 cubic feet per second. At the time of this writing, flows are 3,600 cubic feet per second. As local media YubaNet has helped explain, this volume is equivalent to nearly 2.5 Olympic-size swimming pools of water per minute. Not only are these white water flows incredibly strong, they are icy.
Sudden immersion in cold water can result in cold-water shock. This shock may look like involuntary gasping, panic, and hyperventilation. Inhalation of air or water from this shock can immediately lead to the drowning process. It can trigger sudden changes in blood pressure, temporary paralysis, and cardiac arrest.
The South Yuba River will not be safe to swim for months. Keep kids and pets alive by staying out of the river. Skip the dip and take a hike! Enjoy the wildflowers, blooming dogwoods, and vibrant redbuds from the trail.