High Water on North Platte River Poses Hazards for Memorial Day Recreation
The river is currently near flood stage. Water levels fluctuate from day to day, potentially bringing in new hazards such as floating debris and submerged obstacles. River channels can change course as water rises or drops, and clearance for boats or float tubes beneath bridges can decrease quickly.
“The river can look different from one day to the next,” says Saratoga Game Warden Biff Burton. “If you are floating the river, the way you go around obstacles can also change daily.”
Burton implores people to put off any float trips down the North Platte River until water levels normalize.
“Conditions are very dangerous at this time,” says Burton. “People shouldn’t float when the river is this high. It will drop soon; wait until then for your float trip.”
Anyone who makes camp near rivers and streams could also be at risk, as water levels could rise quickly should additional snowmelt result from warming temperatures or additional rainfall. The department is advising campers to avoid setting up near rivers and streams.
Last but certainly not least, cold water and wet conditions can induce hypothermia. The department urges those headed into the outdoors to be prepared and avoid situations where hypothermia could set in.
The department says folks should heed these safety tips:
- Listen to local radio or television stations for flooding information, as well as NOAA weather radio for current weather warnings and alerts.
- Be prepared for sudden changing conditions.
- Remember that wind and water are a dangerous mix. Wind can topple rubber rafts or float tubes and can cause dangerous waves.
- Set a float plan to let people know where you will put in, where you will take out and a timeline so rescuers know where to look for you if there is a problem.
- invest in a high-quality Personal Flotation Device (PFD). PFDs save lives when worn properly.