Heat Wave Means Danger in Waterways

May 14, 2008 8:45:34 PM PDT
Local rivers will be swelling in the next few days. Snow melt is predicted to peak because of hot temperatures which means waters will move faster, grow deeper and become colder. Luther Roberts landed a big catch. He wades deep in the Kings River and knows it can get dangerous. Roberts said, "It's calm very clam. You go out another 10 feet it's pretty strong, pretty good current."

Eyes are watching fast moving rivers. Randy McFarland with the Kings River Water Association says the coming weekend will see peak runoff swelling local waterways. McFarland said, "A lot of the snow at the lower and middle elevations has already melted but at the higher elevations it's primed and ready to melt. And it's going to start gushing down."

Most of the water along the Kings River will be swiftly moving. But rescuers are really concerned about the temperature. The water is about 50 degrees which can dramatically slow a person's fight for survival.

Deputy Scott Weishaar and his partner both know from first hand experience the crisp waters of the Kings River can catch you off guard. Weishaar said, "The cold water, just the initial shock of falling in the water. Not only is the person scared, cold water just drains your energy."

Roberts said,"I weight 240 pounds. I think I sit pretty good in the water... Hahah" But Roberts knows weak swimmers could easily succumb to a river that provides heat relief. He said, "Oh, a kid. I wouldn't recommend it at all. He's going to get taken on down the river."

The Fresno County Sheriff's Department reports two people drowned on the Kings River last year. They know the waters are inviting when the heat is on, so they just want you to be careful and use a life jacket.


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